Engineering firm AECOM presented a preliminary design plan for the Groton Long Point Bridge on Tuesday, July 12, 2022, at a meeting of the Groton City Council Committee of the Whole. This rendering, developed early in the process, shows what the bridge might look like with two lanes of traffic, two bike lanes, and a sidewalk, but does not take into account the elevation of the bridge’s elevation or the increase in the span length.
Groton ― The preliminary design for a project to replace the Groton Long Point road bridge and make the structure safer and more resilient to rising sea levels is under review.
Consulting engineer AECOM presented a preliminary design for the bridge and causeway to the city council at its full committee meeting on Tuesday. The plan calls for two 11-foot traffic lanes, two 5-foot bicycle lanes, and a 5½-foot sidewalk, although the Groton Long Point Association’s board of directors requests that a bridge sidewalk be removed from the project at East Shore Avenue. .
The bridge is a critical piece of infrastructure, as the only vehicular bridge that connects Groton Long Point and Mumford Cove to the rest of Groton, said project manager Andre St. Germain. The population of Groton Long Point was 530, according to the 2020 census.
The state has rated the existing bridge, which was built in 1935 and has two 12-foot lanes of traffic and two 3-foot shoulders, in “poor condition,” a prior “serious” then “critical” condition, said Saint Germain. . The rating is a driving factor for the project – the bridge is still safe, he said, but it is important to fix it now as long as it is not an emergency.
The goal is to make the bridge safer for pedestrians, drivers and cyclists, provide a causeway that can withstand storm surges, build an easy-to-maintain structure that complements the area, and build it from economically, while minimizing the impact on the environment. , he said.
The preliminary design would widen the bridge by about 5 feet, to 41 feet, and increase the length by 50 feet to 86 feet, according to a city document. The proposed sidewalk would run from Esker Point Beach to East Shore Avenue.
The design takes into account that by 2050 sea levels are expected to rise about 20 inches, St. Germain said. He explained that it is not possible to raise the bridge 6 feet to meet federal design standards due to the impact on surrounding properties, but the government allows design exceptions if the criteria are met. is unreasonable. The proposal is to raise the bridge approximately 4 feet to 13.3 feet at its maximum elevation.
The project was estimated to cost about $6.7 million in 2021, but that doesn’t take into account right-of-way acquisition, utility relocation costs or inflation, St. Germain said. One funding option is to apply for a program where the federal government covers 80% of the cost and the city covers 20%, but the city could also apply for a new program, available due to the new infrastructure law, in which the federal government would bear the full cost.
St. Germain outlined a proposed schedule to begin final design next year, complete it in 2024, and then begin construction in 2025, with the goal of completing construction in 2026.
Greg Hanover, the city’s director of public works, said planning for the project goes back a decade, but the project stalled for a few years due to a lack of funding, although the city has continued to do so. to advance. The first public listening session to get feedback on the project was in 2012 and the most recent in 2019. He said an ad hoc working group began meeting in October 2020 to provide feedback to engineers during the development of preliminary plans. The group included members of the City Council, the Municipal Representative Assembly, the Groton Long Point Association, and the Groton Resilience and Sustainability Task Force.
Groton Long Point Association president Michael Flynn sent the city a letter last month on behalf of the association’s board of directors in which the council supported the project but not a sidewalk of the bridge at East Shore Ave.
At Tuesday’s meeting, he said he needed a fishing pier, not a sidewalk. He said a fishing pier would keep fishermen off the roadway and provide a cement barrier, rather than a sidewalk that a car could veer into and injure someone.
At Tuesday’s meeting, councilors made suggestions including the importance of incorporating a barrier to deter children from jumping off the bridge in the summer, adding a reflective barrier to better protect pedestrians and cyclists from cars and research the potential of a combination of a jetty and sidewalk fishing.
City manager John Burt said Thursday that council plans to consider a few other design options before selecting one to present at a public briefing this summer that has yet to be scheduled.