GOOD Morning Wilton‘s news coverage has been full of stories recently about significant infrastructure projects that are, or may soon be, underway in Wilton.
The focus on infrastructure stems in large part from the priority First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice has placed on it throughout her tenure. But is also being fueled by millions of dollars ($5.4 million, to be exact) in grants now available from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
Needless to say, there are already numerous ideas on the table — some that are necessary and others that are more discretionary. They include improvements to Wilton trails and parks, repairs at the Town Hall complex, a new turf field, upgrades to the emergency communications system, and a wide range of other projects.
But amid the long list of projects being discussed, a GMW reader noticed there was no mention of plans for a long-awaited pedestrian bridge linking Wilton Center to the train station. (Thanks for your question on our Facebook page, Connie Jo Dickerson!)
So what happened to those plans? GMW reached out to Wilton’s Department of Public Works Director and Town Engineer Frank Smeriglio for an update.
Background on the Bridge
Efforts to make the pedestrian bridge a reality go back to at least 2007.
In February 2020, the Town finally received a commitment from the State Department of Transportation, promising $1,405,200 in grant money for the construction of the bridge.
Then, the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the project’s momentum, with slowdowns at the state level that brought the planning to a virtual standstill.
Wilton’s DPW sent the required engineering plans to the state, where they have languished for months.
The plans call for the bridge to be accessed by pedestrians behind the Red Rooster Pub (or from Merwin Meadows), along the Norwalk River Valley Trail.
On the train station side, the bridge entrance would be just behind the small train station structure.
Smeriglio told GMW the Town has responded to all of the state’s questions on the plans. The next step is for the state to issue the authorization for Wilton to put the project out for bids.
Wilton has pushed the state to receive the authorization over the winter, in order to get the most competitive bids.
Smeriglio remains hopeful that the authorization will come in soon.
“There’s still a good shot we can bid this in March [or] April,” he said.
Following a phase of “shop drawings” by the selected contractor in late spring, Smeriglio says the bridge could be constructed this summer.
Haven’t Costs Increased?
The grant commitment was a huge win for Wilton, as it was expected to cover the entire cost of the project, including both the construction and the administrative costs.
But with two years elapsed since the commitment was made, it seems likely that bids will come in higher than originally anticipated.
The GOOD news is the state’s commitment includes contingencies for such cost increases.
“When the bids come back, if they’re higher, those numbers go back up to the state,” Smeriglio said. “There are provisions in that grant that allow for certain increases.”
“We just need that authorization for bid,” he added.