And Speaking of Infrastructure… Whatever Happened to the Pedestrian Bridge?

Source: Tighe & Bond, Feb. 23, 2021 (notations added by GMW)

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.

Next Steps

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.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Nice story on the bridge. There’s an obvious need to link Wilton Center to the train station, but $1.4 million for a footbridge across a stream is far too much money. Plus, it’s in the wrong place. From Lang’s, you have to walk north of the station, under a dreary overpass, cross the bridge and then turn around and walk south again. So it hardly saves any steps compared to the current route walking over the overpass. The town should put stakes or markers where the bridge will be so that residents can see where it will go. Oh, and it costs $1.4 million. Finally, with ridership down so much on Metro-north, is this the right time to be building it at all? And did I mention the price is $1.4 million? 🙂

    • As the main purpose of this bridge is to bring people coming off the train into Wilton center, the location of the bridge is dictated by what is most/easily accessible FROM the train station.

  2. Thanks for the update, very exciting and will be an EXCELLENT addition.
    What is criminal though is that it has taken 15 years to get this far…..

  3. Thanks for the update. I agree with David Moyer that it would be great for the Town to identify where the possible locations are for the bridge. And how the bridge will help connect pedestrians to other paths, trails and amenities. And of course, what about the DESIGN of this resource? What will the bridge look like and what materials will be used? How do the aesthetics of such a bridge relate to the visual identity (and much needed future refinements to that identity) of our town? Onward!

  4. The bridge project had fallen off my personal radar… thank you for the reminder. That said, my recollection of where such a bridge would be located is inconsistent with what I’m reading in your article. Is the bridge location as described in this article accurate? Definite? If so, I believe it’s NOT really the improvement of integration between town center and train station citizens we’re expecting. The bridge should be erected further to the south where it would truly be more engaging with town center and a more direct shorter walk into the center. Location is a key factor to why the bridge is important. This should be evident in the master town plan.

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