At long last, the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge is done

A photo of the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge taken by Christian. (WTNH/Report-It/Christian)
A photo of the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge taken by Christian. (WTNH/Report-It/Christian)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– Governor Dannel Malloy stood on top of a waterfront parking garage this morning and announced that the last major piece of the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge project is done. It was a little anticlimactic for some. There was no ribbon cutting, no marching band. That’s probably because the bridge itself has been done for months. The last pieces of the puzzle have been the various ramps on and off of it, and they are now done, too.

“This has been literally decades in the making,” said DOT Commissioner James Redeker. “Thousands of people working and becoming a real family.”

It cost more than two billion dollars, but when the old bridge and interchange were built in the 1950s, the were only designed to handle 40,000 vehicles a day. Today, roughly 120,000 vehicles roll through the area every day.

“The entire project was delivered on time and under budget,” said Governor Dannel Malloy. (D) Connecticut.

Well, on time by the most recent schedule. At one point, the whole thing was supposed to be done in 2012. Then some things happened.

The DOT put the whole bridge project out to bid and not one construction company would touch it. It was too big and did not have provisions for the cost of materials going up. Plus there were arguments about what to do with the old Yale Boathouse that stood in the way.

Drivers got discouraged. In 2007, News8 spoke to a 68 year-old North Haven man named Floyd Brown. Back then, he told News8, “I don’t think the Q bridge will ever get done, or I won’t live to see it.”

News8 tracked him down, and it turns out, Brown is still very much alive. He said he drives over the new bridge “every other day,” and he is very happy to be wrong about that prediction.

In 2008, then-governor Jodi Rell held a groundbreaking, but only for a small part of the bridge. At the time, she expressed her frustration, saying, “You’ve got this great project out there and no one wants to bid on it.”

The state then broke up the project into a bunch of smaller piece. They did get bidders, and once construction started, they kept meeting, or beating, all their deadlines. The first half of the new bridge opened in 2012. The second half in 2015. Since then, crews have been working on connecting I-95, I-91, Route 34 and the various ramps.

Most of those ramps now have two lanes where they used to have just one, all designed to make traffic flow faster. The Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge itself got two extra lanes in each direction, and nice wide shoulders.

Related: New Haven’s Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge wins national award

“We’ve had a series of openings over the last few years, this is the last big one,” Gov. Malloy explained. “The interchange is the last major piece of this construction project that began in 2000.”

There may be some cosmetic work still to do, but the work is done on all the pieces stuff on which we actually drive.

Anyone who drives I-95 just south of New Haven will still see construction for a while. That is a totally different project replacing the bridge over the West River, and that is not scheduled to end for another two years.

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