Local Residents Plea to Town of New Milford for Bridge Fixture
It's sad when something that seems indestructible ends up deteriorate to the point where they're too expensive to fix because it's way cheaper to just destroy it and move on. Two bridges in New Milford are currently in this predicament.
The State of Connecticut and its municipalities have poured billions of dollars into the rehabbing of its bridges over the past decade because well, Connecticut has a lot of water and valleys to cross. Replacing a bridge that carries vital commuter traffic on a main artery is a no-brainer because the consequences of not doing so are sometimes fatal. Look at the recent bridge collapse in Pittsburgh, and the Mianus River Bridge collapse on I-95 in Cos Cob almost 40 years ago.
Getting the State of Connecticut or the Federal Government to fork over millions for the rehab or replacement of a bridge along I-84, Rt. 7, or 202 is automatic, but it's not going to be so easy to raise those funds for the historical Boardman Bridge, or the exit bridge out of Harrybrooke Park in New Milford.
The exit bridge out of New Milford's Harrybrooke Park has been closed for the past few weeks, and we recently spoke with Harrybrooke Executive Director Billy Mo Buckbee who filled us in on the fact that the rough estimate to restore the bridge is $2 million dollars and a temporary solution would cost around $125,000.
I saw a spirited debate this morning in the comments to a post in the New Milford, CT Group on Facebook, regarding the Boardman Bridge. The post is a plea to the town of New Milford to restore the historic wrought-iron truss bridge from a fellow group member Kent. Most of the comments are along the lines of "It's an eyesore, tear it down", or "Great idea, are you going to write a check?". Quite a few commenters seem to appreciate the historical value of the bridge, which was built in 1887-1888, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
The common enemy of the two bridges is the 149 mile long Housatonic River, which the Boardman Bridge goes directly across, while the Harrybrooke Park exit bridge carries across over the Still River, a tributary of the Housatonic. If it's going to cost an estimated $2 million to restore the Harrybrooke Park exit bridge, the cost to rebuild the 188 foot long Boardman Bridge has got to be astronomical.
So, it comes down to the benefits. Right next to the Boardman Bridge is Boardman Road, which was built in 1984. It's a modern bridge, up to code, so, why replace the Boardman Bridge? Pedestrians and hikers. With no true pedestrian shoulders on Boardman Road, it makes it tough to find parking and access to the New Milford River Trail.
Harrybrooke Park's access and parking have been limited also by the exit bridge's closure, so what happens now? The bridges sit and continue to rot unused until the restoration or demolition funds can be realized. This is the time for daily users of either bridge to organize and start exploring ways to fund their efforts.