After six years, New Haven’s State Street bridge construction project is almost complete. That is a welcome sight in a busy part of the Elm City. It has been so long since the bridge has actually served as a bridge, people around the span have gotten used to life without it.
“It’s difficult for some of our customers to navigate the detours and get off the highway and come here,” said Tracey LaPorte, an employee at Chestnut Fine Foods & Confections on State Street.
She has been waiting for the day the construction equipment leaves and the bridge reopens.
“For all the businesses, that’s what we thrive on is foot traffic and people walking by and getting to come in and know the area,” said LaPorte.
The bridge has been shut down since 2009. Construction was supposed to be done in two years and cost around $6 million. Six years later, the final price tag is closer to $28 million.
“About every construction problem and nightmare that you might encounter on a project of this kind was encountered here,” said Sen. Martin Looney, (D) District 11, who represents residents in New Haven, North Haven and Hamden.
From finding and then having to replace a major water main, to discovering pollution problems along the banks of the Mill River that had to be solved, to navigating the red tape that comes with a plan overseen by local and state and federal officials; progress on the project was slow.
“You had to connect these neighborhoods and you had to get this thing done right and I think they got it done right,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
Now the neighborhood is ready to start enjoying the “new normal” the new bridge may bring. “It’s exciting for them to also get all these new customers to also come through and do well,” said LaPorte.
Final repairs were set to be made on Thursday night and Friday morning. The State Street bridge is set to reopen to traffic Friday afternoon.