Wilton Center pedestrian bridge construction to likely start soon

WILTON — With summer here, town officials are hopeful that the foundation of the long-discussed pedestrian bridge can soon be built and the rest of the work can commence.

“The key is to get out of the ground,” DPW Head Frank Smeriglio recently told the Board of Selectmen in regards to the timetable for a pedestrian bridge linking Wilton Center to the Wilton Metro-North train station.

Smeriglio said the bridge will feature handicap accessible ramps on both sides, have lighting for commuters coming home and pedestrians walking at night, and will be 10 feet wide. It will stretch from the train station in Merwin Meadows, across the Norwalk River.

While a timetable hasn’t been firmly established, selectmen agreed to move into contracts with both Dayton Construction, subject to state Department of Transportation approval, and with Tighe and Bond to oversee the project.

The contract with Dayton, who will oversee the project, came back at $1.18 million. Tighe and Bond’s contract totals $120,950. Smeriglio told the selectman that the bid from Dayton came back at $29,000 more than engineers anticipated. The other two bidders for the project came in slightly higher than that, he said.

Because of that $29,000 increase, Smeriglio said the town had to work with the Western Connecticut Council of Governments (WestCOG). The town had received a $1.4 million grant to be put towards the construction of the pedestrian bridge. That funding will come through a Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program grant.

“We had to work with WestCOG to get that increase approved,” Smeriglio said. After being approved by WestCOG, the town just awaits an approval from the DOT to award the contract to Dayton. Smeriglio expects that to take up to a week.

The hope is for the project to begin in short order.

The project is expected to take six months, according to specifications the town included for the project and that have been adapted into the Dayton contract. Smeriglio said in March that he anticipated construction to start in the beginning part of this summer.

“So the contractor provided us with a schedule that says they’ll get it done in six months,” Smeriglio said. “But really, you know, anything can happen with delays in materials, but there is a big push to get the foundation part of the bridge out of the ground in the summer because water levels are low.”

First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice added that, if the bridge isn’t started with ample time, construction could eventually be held up by winter weather.

But, until the contract is signed, Smeriglio said it’s “hard to say what the timeframe is.”

The project is anticipated to play a large role in the interconnectivity of Wilton Center, which is currently undergoing a full master plan process.