EAST HADDAM, Conn. (WTNH) — A major upgrade is on its way for the swing bridge in East Haddam.
The steel structure, built in 1913, is currently the only way to cross the Connecticut River between I-95 and Route 66. It connects East Haddam to Haddam via Route 82.
Starting in the spring of 2022 and continuing for three years, the Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT) will be making $58.2 million in major repairs to the 108-year-old swing bridge.
First Selectman Irene Haines, the Republican leader of East Haddam, said the fix is long overdue.
“We’re happy to have any kind of funding and any kind of sources and where that comes from is OK with me,” Haines said.
Inspections by CT DOT’s bridge safety and evaluation unit show the bridge is in poor condition. The superstructure is falling apart.
First Selectman Norm Needleman, the Democratic leader in Essex, said this bridge is a prime example of a larger issue.
“The infrastructure of this country needs to be updated,” Needleman said. “It needs a shot in the arm.”
Rehabbed four times with a more recent emergency repair in 2016, the steel truss bridge is a priority. Connecticut is getting an 80 percent federal match from the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Governor Ned Lamont said Connecticut is receiving some $5 billion in aid.
“This is a really big important investment, one of the most important investments for our state and our country that we’ve seen maybe since Franklin Roosevelt,” Lamont said.
Despite the infrastructure bill getting bipartisan support in Washington, a second big bill, the Biden administration’s “Build Back Better” agenda, is now stalled. A key Democratic senator, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, said the price tag is too high.
U.S. Congressman Joe Courtney, a Democrat from the 2nd Congressional District, said the House passed the Build Back Better bill last month. But unfortunately, the Senate is where the log jam remains.
“I’m staying totally focused on helping in any way possible our two senators to get across the finish line,” Courtney said.
He said the $2 trillion social spending package includes money for fixing crumbling foundations in Eastern Connecticut.
“Connecticut tried to step up to help these homeowners. There are resources in this bill which are going to help accelerate the process of fixing people’s homes,” Courtney added.
Construction on the swing bridge project will also include an elevated sidewalk connecting Haddam and East Haddam.
State Senator Will Haskell, the Democratic chair of the legislature’s Transportation Committee, said he will help steer where the federal dollars go in Connecticut.
“This project is going to include a pedestrian and cyclist bridge because we know the transportation cannot just be built for cars,” Haskell said.
Major impacts on traffic are expected. CT DOT plans to close the bridge for six months, Sunday nights to Wednesday afternoons beginning next year. Traffic will be decreased to only one lane. Boats will be affected too.
The state will give everyone two weeks’ notice of closures. You can sign up for traffic alerts here.