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    Monday, April 15, 2024

    Gold Star Bridge project getting started

    A project to repair and strengthen the northbound Gold Star Memorial Bridge span is underway, with the Department of Transportation making preparations for the under-the-deck work slated to begin next month.

    “The anticipated work of Phase 1A on the northbound side of the Gold Star Memorial Bridge is just getting started, with an anticipated completion date of July 2025,” the DOT said this week in a statement. “Over the next several weeks, motorists can expect periodic lane closures as preparations are made on-site for the project which will strengthen the bridge.”

    “In early April, we expect continuous closures of a shoulder and single adjacent lane to be implemented as rehabilitation work gets underway below the deck surface. Construction signs and traffic control devices will be used for extended periods of time,” the DOT added. “Motorists should always obey traffic signs and use extreme caution in work zones: slow down, keep a safe distance, and stay alert.”

    The bridge, comprising two separate spans, carries Interstate 95 over the Thames River between Groton and New London. The DOT has said the northbound span is in poor condition but does not pose a safety hazard, with the deck and superstructure receiving a "poor" rating and the foundation receiving a "fair" rating.

    The overall $300 million project is slated to proceed in three phases, with a tentative completion date of 2030, the DOT has said. The approximately $50 million Phase 1A entails strengthening and improving the truss spans, followed by Phase 1B to strengthen and improve the girder spans, and Phase 2 to replace the deck. Currently, heavier vehicles that require a permit cannot cross the bridge and have to take a 17-mile detour, but the project will strengthen the span so it can handle heavier vehicles.

    Local officials applauded the start of the long-anticipated project and encouraged drivers to proceed carefully and pay attention during the construction.

    New London Mayor Michael Passero said he’s been waiting for the long-delayed project because of the jobs it will bring to the building trades, which have been anxious to see it begin. He said it’s great that the project is finally kicking off.

    “From the point of view of infrastructure needs, it’s long overdue that they get started on this bridge,” he added.

    He said he hasn’t seen any impacts yet to traffic. He said the earlier project to repair the southbound span brought traffic impacts, but it was not unbearable.

    As far as emergency response on the bridge, Passero said New London and Groton coordinate with each other and already have a plan on which fire department will respond depending on whether the response is needed on the northbound or southbound side.

    City of Groton Mayor Keith Hedrick said he noticed the impact on traffic when he drove across the bridge, which had been reduced by two left lanes, on Wednesday. 

    He talked to Groton City's fire chief, and the fire department is prepared to respond, if needed, to any traffic or construction accidents during the project.

    “It’s a much-needed project,” Hedrick added. “It’s going to be a long-term project, and we need people to be patient and understand.”

    Groton Town Manager John Burt said he isn’t expecting any major impacts. “People will just have to be careful when traveling through there to pay extra attention for the lane closures to stay safe,” he said.

    k.drelich@theday.com

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