New Haven city officials are preparing for much-needed work on the Grand Avenue bridge.
There have been discussions about overhauling the bridge since 2010. Its last revamp was in the 1980s.
In about two months, the city will close the crossing that connects Fair Haven to Fair Haven Heights for a top-to-bottom, $23 million, 18-month revamp.
On Wednesday, city planning and emergency officials held a forum explaining the changes on the way for the two communities.
“We need to overhaul its mechanical and electrical systems completely -- completely new. The approach spans are actual original to 1898, so we’re replacing all of that steel as well. We’re replacing the deck, actually making the bridge substantially lighter,” New Haven City Engineer Giovanni Zinn said.
With the Grand Avenue bridge out of service, people looking to get from one side to the other will have to detour using the Ferry Street bridge.
Robert James, who lives on Quinnipiac Avenue in Fair Haven Heights, is anxious to see how the project will impact how he and his neighbors get around. He is already expecting congestion.
“Sometimes, even with the two bridges, traffic can build up for different reasons. Now it’s only one bridge, I’m going to anticipate more traffic in my area,” James said.
The fire chief said the department has studied potential worst-case scenarios for the limited access to the area during the project and is prepared to preposition trucks in order to maintain safe response times.
City officials said they expect there will be growing pains in the first weeks of the closure as people adjust, but believe the detour challenges will minimize with times.
“We’ll be adjusting timing of lights, we’ll be working on ways to mitigate the traffic. But as people shift and find new traffic patterns, I think that’ll settle down a bit,” Zinn said.
The contractor Mohawk Northeast has 610 calendar days for the project before they have to pay penalties. The city said it’s confident the work will be done in that time.
An exact closure date is weather-dependent and hasn’t been seen yet, but is expected the second half of April or sometime in early May.