LETTER: Proposed Design for Lovers Lane Bridge Replacement is Too Much Bridge

To the Editor:

The bridge on Lovers Lane leading to Merwin Meadows Park was built in 1930 and needs to be replaced. Wilton is currently reviewing the preliminary design as prepared by the CT Department of Transportation and Clough Harbour Associates, the acting Consultant Liaison Engineer based in Albany, NY. 

A virtual public informational hearing was held last week about the project. The proposed bridge is wider and higher–a two-lane superstructure built to accommodate up to 1,000 cars per day. Construction will involve permanent rights of way property takings and the moving of utility wires. 

By way of background, the existing Lovers Lane bridge is 16’6” wide. It is adjacent to the Wilton Congregational Church and leads to a neighborhood of nine residential homes in addition to Merwin Meadows Park. 

The Federal Highway Administration guidelines require a minimum of a 22-foot wide, two-lane bridge for an average daily traffic of 401-1,000 vehicles per day. If the average daily traffic is short of 400 vehicles, a 20-foot wide bridge is sufficient. The current bridge design calls for a curb-to-curb width up to 24-feet wide. 

We learned during the public hearing that no formal traffic survey has been completed. As a resident of Lovers Lane, I am skeptical that an average of 400 vehicles cross the bridge daily (there are 63 parking spaces at Merwin Meadows Park). 

What I do know is that vehicles often exceed the 25 mph speed limit on Lovers Lane. This is the problem. There is a school bus stop at the church parking lot for neighborhood children and pedestrians often use Lovers Lane to access Merwin Meadows and the Norwalk River Valley Trail. 

A 20-foot wide bridge would maintain one lane of traffic and allow for additional pedestrian walking space that could be marked on the roadway to alert drivers. Speed bumps along Lovers Lanes should also be a part of the construction design. 

I urge the town to consider replacing the bridge at a width of 20 feet, maintaining one lane of traffic, and working to ensure that cars go more slowly by installing speed bumps along Lovers Lane. The estimated $2.7 million state and federal dollars currently designated to this project could be better spent elsewhere. 

Adrienne Schoetz

1 COMMENT

  1. Great letter Adrienne. As your neighbors and residents of Merwin Lane, we completely agree with your assessment of the proposed replacement bridge. We understand that it’s been impossible to accurately count the traffic over the bridge during the pandemic, but it only makes sense that a realistic count is undertaken before investing in the time and expense of replacing this bridge. We agree that a two lane bridge would exacerbate the speeding problem (we routinely creep out of Merwin Lane only to be confronted by cars going upwards of 25 miles an hour with no awareness of oncoming traffic). A one-way bridge, as it is now, has never been an issue — even at the peak of summer traffic the worst that happens is a short wait for a single car to pass over the bridge. Surely a new one-way bridge would be a more suitable, and less expensive, choice.

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