Bridge Closure Causing Headache for Enfield Neighborhood

Right now, there’s only one way in and one way out of Karen Piemonte’s neighborhood, a small strip of land squeezed between the Connecticut River and the train tracks in the Thompsonville area of Enfield.

“It’s been terrible,” she said. “I have medication that has to be overnighted to me and the first time was a nightmare for them to try to find a courier who could find their way in here.”

Town officials say the state closed the South River Street Bridge for safety reasons.

“When they inspected the bridge they felt as though the beams had some corrosion in them,” Councilman Bob Cressotti, who represents the neighborhood, said.

Most trucks can't fit through the only access point to South River Street, a 7.5-foot high tunnel.

"We were doing repairs on the porch and we couldn't get items delivered,” Piemonte recalled.

Those who need oil must make an appointment with the town to reopen the bridge.

"You know your oil companies don't come at certain times, it's not like a doctor's appointment. So, it can be confusing and frustrating,” she said.

While Piemonte said she feels like her neighborhood's been forgotten, Erline Provencher has found a few positives in the situation.

"I'm very pleased,” said Provencher. "I'm kinda happy that the garbage is being picked up twice a week."

Because garbage trucks can't fit through the tunnel, the city has given residents bags to use instead of bins and now picks up more often in vans. Although, some residents complain that they are flimsy and must be put out at the last minute to keep raccoons from spreading the garbage all over the street.

Fire trucks are also too tall to make it through this tunnel, but the state has made an exception for emergency vehicles to use the bridge.

Both Piemonte and Provencher are glad the city is finally doing something about the bridge, which they say has been deteriorating for years.

"I do hope they get the bridge fixed, but in the meantime what the town is doing, I'm satisfied with it,” Provencher said.

With the bridge not scheduled to be rebuilt until the year 2021, town officials hope the state will step up sooner to pay for temporary repairs.

“We’re looking for emergency funding from them and we’re still waiting to hear from them,” said Cressotti.

Updates on the project come in the form of weekly notices. Piemonte said this week's face-to-face meeting, attended by dozens of disgruntled neighbors, came two months too late. Mayor Michael Ludwick said he hoped the presentation showed the community how serious the town is about fixing the problem.

“Mother Nature won out, but the town is working under budget constraints to get the bridge fixed as soon as possible,” Ludwick said.

The director of public works declined to comment on the project. However, Cressotti said the town manager has changed since the bridge first closed in May, and he’s hopeful the new leadership will be more proactive in getting it fixed.

Ludwick has offered to let affected residents have their packages delivered to town hall during the closure.

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