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    Local News
    Tuesday, February 27, 2024

    Gold Star Bridge receives $158 million for repairs

    The Federal Highway Administration has announced a federal grant of $158,150,000 to repair and upgrade the Gold Star Memorial Bridge, the office of Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, announced Thursday.

    Courtney noted in a press release that members of the local Ironworkers union began preliminary work on the bridge last summer, and the new funding ensures more structural work on the northbound side.

    “With this upgrade, the bridge will be able to safely tolerate higher weight vehicles, which is a benefit to all motorists, and will reduce truck traffic on local roads, which is more congested right now due to present weight restrictions,” he said. “This award is a win-win for good paying jobs in the region, and safer traffic flow.”

    The funding comes from FHWA’s Bridge Investment Program, which focuses on reducing the number of bridges in poor condition, or those in fair condition that are at risk of falling into poor condition.

    The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the bipartisan infrastructure bill that Courtney supported and that President Joe Biden signed into law in November 2021, established the Bridge Investment Program.

    In speaking on the House floor last November about what the IIJA means for eastern Connecticut, Courtney said the Gold Star Memorial Bridge “has been getting a pounding since it was built in 1943. The northbound lane right now, frankly, is so compromised that large trucks are basically not given permits to travel across that bridge.”

    He noted that the work is a $250 million job and the bill ensures the funding is available. Courtney added that the work is a project-labor agreement, meaning it will be done with union labor and apprenticeship programs.

    “This massive, historic investment in an iconic Connecticut structure is a major breakthrough for making traveling safer, speedier and more reliable,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said in a phone call Thursday. He added that he spoke with the Secretary of Transportation earlier in the day, who emphasized “how fierce the competition was for bridge funding, all around the country.”

    Blumenthal called the funding “the result of a long, determined, ferocious fight by our delegation” and said they will continue to fight for more funding. He added that he hopes the work is done with environmental sensitivity and efficiency.

    The Connecticut Department of Transportation said in March the expected completion date for the first phase of the northbound project ― focused on strengthening the bridge to carry heavier loads ― is July 2025. Under-the-deck work began earlier this year.

    A 2019 inspection gave the northbound span’s deck and superstructure a “poor” rating and the foundation a “fair” rating, but DOT said the span doesn’t pose a safety risk.

    As part of a visit to southeastern Connecticut in August, U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh joined Courtney and Lamont to see Gold Star Memorial Bridge work funded by the IIJA.

    e.moser@theday.com

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