Route 7 bridge construction to cause possible alternating one-way traffic on Columbus Day

The Route 7 bridge project has been delayed into 2017 due to unforeseen environmental issues, according to a transportation engineer with the state's Bureau of Engineering and Construction.

However, crews will be working to fill the stream channel under the bridge beginning Monday, Oct. 10 — Columbus Day.

"This work will be from the shore nearest Durant's parking area," said David D. Neelands, a state engineer.

Neelands responded to an inquiry from The Press Tuesday, Oct. 4, and said that it was possible that the filling at the east of the bridge could cause some alternating one-way traffic.

The potential traffic stoppages would last from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. — or at night after 8 p.m., Neelands said.

The bridge is located just north of Branchville Road.

"We are hoping this work will take no more than two weeks," he said.

Summer reports

The Press first reported the Route 7 bridge project over the summer when it appeared that it could also require alternating one-way traffic on weekdays at the same time as construction on Route 35.

When the project begins again next year, such a situation could cause drivers seeking to avoid one traffic jam to head to the site of the other — causing even greater delays — but the state says that won’t happen.

“There will be no overlap on road closures,” said state engineer John Dunham in July. “We control both of those jobs out of this office and we recognize that traffic is an issue. There will be no conflict. We coordinate the work.”

Previous plan

The main plan for now-delayed Route 7 project is to perform the work with road closures and detours on Saturdays, for five weekends. Sundays would be added if necessary. Though no hours for the Saturdays were available, the contractor may close the road beginning on Friday at 8 p.m. and must reopen it by Monday at 6 a.m.

Only as needed would work bleed over to weekdays, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with alternating one-way traffic.

Also, only as needed would work be performed from Monday through Thursday from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. with alternating one-way traffic.

The detours for northbound Route 7 traffic would be at Route 102 (Branchville Road) to Route 35 (Main Street) to Route 7. The detour for southbound traffic would be at Route 35 through the village (Main Street) to Route 102 to Route 7.

“Basically we’re shutting down Ethan Allen Highway, at the junctions of Danbury Road and Branchville Road,” Dunham said. “There will be local access for people who live in the work area, but not all-the-way-through access.”

Trucks, from pickups to tractor-trailers, will be using the detours. The state plans to use many road signs to show where the detours are.

“This will be our first solution,” Dunham said.

The second will be to encourage the local police to discourage large truck from using local roads. Spot checks will be made of the detours, to be certain the trucks are complying, and information will be distributed through the local media.

The big question is when the work starts. There’s been a delay because an erosion hole turned out to be much larger than planned. That hole must be filled, and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection needs to sign off on the fill, so that is where the delay comes from.

“We’re waiting for the go-ahead from the DEEP,” Dunham said. “As soon as we find out, we will notify The Press.”

The completion date for the Route 7 bridge project should be the end of the summer season, although the contractor will have until September of next year if things do not go well.

“That’s our goal,” Dunham said, “to finish this season.”