NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A new bridge is officially open in the Westville section of New Haven. You might not even know about it because it is a pedestrian bridge over the West River. You can’t even see it from the street, but the little bridge fits into a bigger picture.
It’s only 60 feet long, but it took years to get this new bridge built. It’s just for pedestrians, so the old bridge did not get a lot of attention. The old bridge did not look that bad in photographs.
“But over the years, the steel had deteriorated a great deal and it wasn’t sound,” explained Thomas Lehtonen of the West River Watershed Coalition. “The decking, a lot of it was missing.”
That meant, until now, the West River Greenway had a big problem.
“You could walk along our trail at the southern end, and you could walk along it on the northern end, but once you got to the river here, there was literally no way to cross it,” Lehtonen said.
All that changed Monday with a ribbon cutting. City officials say more access to the trail along the West River will mean more people enjoying nature. One summer program is already planning a nature hike this week.
“So, it’s going to help us to come here and learn more,” said city alder Honda Smith (D – 30th Ward). “It’s going to be our educational system how we learn about nature.”
The new bridge is not just helpful for people looking for a casual walk in the woods. There are plenty of people in New Haven who don’t have a car, and this will be a big help for them.
“Going back centuries, people went up and down through our land by the rivers,” Giovanni Zinn, New Haven’s City Engineer. “This is an opportunity to take a much more natural way to get around.”
The hope is that this will be the first of several new bridges in the West River Watershed. The next site may be where the Pond Lily Dam used to be until it was removed in 2015.
“Literally, walking towards that vision to where someday, someone can walk from one end of the West River all the way to the other end of the West River and to the harbor,” said Mayor Justin Elicker (D – New Haven).
And all those years of trying to get the city to act are now just…water under the bridge.