By the spring, Stamford should have a new pedestrian bridge in place to transport pedestrians across the Rippowam River while the status of the historic West Main Street Bridge is decided.
Rotha Contracting Company will be constructing the bridge, which is projected to cost $1.4 million, according to Lou Casolo, Stamford’s city engineer, who spoke at the Board of Representatives’ Operations Committee. The company plans to break ground in October and, according to the contract, has 180 days to complete the project, Casolo said.
The historic West Main Street Bridge has been closed to cars for about 20 years, but has remained a pedestrian bridge. The city and its community have been divided over the question of whether the bridge should be rebuilt to remain pedestrian only, or if it should be rebuilt to also allow cars to cross it.
Stamford’s Director of Operations Matt Quinones said that Mayor Caroline Simmons’ administration has conducted outreach in the area, particularly with residents from the West End neighborhood, which surrounds the west side of the bridge.
“This was not a scientific process,” he said, noting that it was “one where we were aiming to have conversations and build some trust and relationships in the neighborhood.”
Quinones noted that they heard from residents that they “wanted something done now.” They wanted the city to “make it safe,” and noted that the current deteriorating bridge is “an eyesore.”
One thing they did not hear was a “clear consensus on how the bridge should be used.”
Quinones said that the city is planning to go out to bid for designs of the bridge—one just for pedestrians and one for cars as well—and then present the options to the Board of Representatives. Each of the designs will include construction costs, what the bridge would look like, duration, public safety consideration, and a traffic study analysis.
The goal, Quinones said, is to have the bridge into design by the end of the calendar year.
“This issue, this bridge, has been something that’s been contentious in the city for a long time,” said Representative Nina Sherwood. “The opportunity for us to weigh in is something I'm grateful for.”