NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — After nearly two years of repairs, New Haven’s Grand Avenue Bridge reopened to traffic Tuesday morning. The bridge is the main artery connecting the Fair Haven and Fair Haven Heights neighborhoods.
The 130-year-old bridge closed in April 2020 to undergo $24 million worth of renovations.
“You know what happened in the spring of 2020?” the City of New Haven’s Chief Administrative Officer Regina Rush-Kittle, asked rhetorically. “Despite the pandemic, the bridge has been completed on time for our community.”
It was also completed on budget. Both are pretty remarkable given the issues of the past two years. The bridge reopened Tuesday morning, but city officials held a ceremony this past Saturday to celebrate.
“It’s about connecting as a community and these two sides of the bridge,” Mayor Justin Elicker (D-New Haven) said. “Not only from an emotional and community perspective, but also it’s going to be pretty convenient.”
Convenience is not a word usually associated with the Grand Avenue Bridge. It is a swing bridge, so it has moving parts that have to line up just right. It has a long history of not doing that and inconveniencing a lot of drivers and pedestrians.
“I remember almost 40 years ago being on this bridge during a difficult time when the bridge was closed and, growing up right up on Clifton Street, not having access during the 80s’ at that time,” State Rep. Al Paolillo (D-New Haven) said.
It was also known for the metal expanding on hot summer days and getting stuck. Back then, the only solution was for the fire department to hose it down with cold water.
This most recent closure was for a complete overhaul. It got all new mechanical and electrical systems, wider sidewalks for increased pedestrian safety, and a new color picked by the neighborhood. It’s lighter so as not to absorb so much heat from the sun.
“I really don’t want to have to close this bridge again,” New Haven City Engineer Giovanni Zinn said. “So, hopefully, we all do our jobs well, and we will enjoy this new and better infrastructure.”
Crews also replaced the entire bridge deck, so even the ride should be much smoother from now on.