Branchville bridge closing: Traffic detour returns this weekend

EDITOR'S NOTE: The state has postponed this week's traffic detours. They will happen the weekend of Aug. 18-21. A second weekend of detours is set for Aug. 25-28.

The Route 7 bridge just north of Branchville will be closed for work on the weekend of Aug. 11 to Aug. 13, sending tens of thousands of vehicles through the center of Ridgefield via Route 102 (Branchville Road) and Route 35 (Main Street/Danbury Road).

The state Department of Transportation (DOT) calculates that about 17,000 vehicles will be detoured through Ridgefield center on a Saturday, and about 13,000 on a Sunday, by closing Route 7.

The Aug. 11-13 closure will be the third of five weekend-long highway closings that are planned on Route 7, to allow repair of the bridge on Route 7 near The Little Pub restaurant, just north of the traffic light at the intersection of Route 102. This third closure is needed to allow workers to install bridge abutments, according to the DOT.

The fourth closing is expected to be two weeks later, Aug. 25 to 27, when precast deck units will be installed.

One further closing is expected after that, but a date has not yet been announced.

The previous closures began at 8 p.m. on the Friday night, and work went on continuously until sometime Sunday. The original schedule for the first closures showed the work potentially continuing until the 6 a.m. on the Monday, but that did not prove necessary and the dates for the two coming weekend closures are listed as Friday through Sunday.

Extra-duty officers

The Ridgefield Police Department plans to have officers at either end of the detour — the intersections at Route 7 and Route 35, and at Route 7 and Route 102, an officer patrolling the stretch in between, and, at heavy traffic times, an officer stationed at the intersection of Route 102 and Florida Road.

“We will have extra-duty officers assigned to the detail in the same locations as the previous details,” Capt. Kreitz said Monday, July 31. “This will include an officer at the Florida Rd./Rt.102 intersection during peak hours.”

The officer at the Florida Road and 102  intersection was added after the first closure due to the large number of vehicles trying to use Florida Road as a bypass, rather than following the official detour — a somewhat longer route, but on state highways.

As it worked in past closures, Route 7 was closed off completely at the southern end of the detour, in Branchville. But at the north end of the detour, an officer was stationed by the intersection at Routes 7 and 35, keeping the highway closed to through-traffic but allowing southbound vehicles past if they are headed to destinations along Route 7 as far down as the highway closure point at the bridge in Branchville, three miles to the south.

Renovation of the Route 7 bridge in Branchville was contracted out at $3.5 million by the state.