DOT says State Street Bridge project should wrap in 2015

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The State Street bridge is now expected to re-open next spring. Bu drivers and local business owners have heard those kind of promises in the past only to be disappointed.

The Mill River may only be 90 feet wide, but replacing the State Street bridge over it is proving a big challenge. Work began in 2009, and state street remains closed to frustrated drivers.

“So we thought we could cut through and go to North Haven and once again this road is closed off,” said Jean Cipollini, Guilford.

This was supposed to be done in 2011. News 8 has followed along as goals came and went. In 2011, the Department of Transportation told News 8 the work would be done by the end of 2013. But they did not, because of a string of problems, starting with a water main over the river. It had to be replaced. They found pilings for the I-91 bridge above were in the way of some of the plans. Then they found soil and groundwater was contaminated. Then last summer we heard about another problem.

“Settlement due to the vibrations of the 1-91 bridge and some other utilities in the area. We had to proceed very delicately,” said Brian Mercure, DOT.

And very expensively. All the delays have cost millions. But the real cost may be to local businesses. With the road closed closed and traffic diverted away from here, there’s not that much traffic going by the stores and coffee shops in this neighborhood.

“When it started, a year, 2 years, 3 years, you kind of wonder what’s going on,” said Ross Menze, The Coffee Pedaler.

The Coffee Pedaler prides itself as a destination for out of towners when they can find it. GPS still sends you down State Street.

“Oh, I can go this way. No closed, detour. Thankfully exit 5 is not too bad, you just go around, but for someone who doesn’t know the area, it can be a little frustrating for sure,” said Menze.

“And I noticed that the area is very depressed, and it’s very depressing that I can’t get through to the other road,” said  Cipollini.

A big part of the problem is this is a city bridge. New Haven hired someone to design it, then the state DOT stepped in to build it. The state says all those obstacles – the water main, contamination, the foundation for the overpass, were overlooked by the designer, leaving the builders to deal with them as they popped up. The new estimate for opening the bridge is April of next year.

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