Wilton architect: An arch for new bridge would be ‘an aesthetic win’
WILTON — How the bridge at Lovers Lane will look began to take shape when members of the Architectural Review Board met with town engineer Frank Smeriglio and representatives of the state Department of Transportation.
And that shape could include an archway over the water.
The meeting on Nov. 5 followed a virtual public hearing that took place on Oct. 15. At that meeting, DOT officials and consulting engineers Clough Harbour Associates reviewed how deficiencies with the present bridge necessitate replacement, options for how construction will take place, and what the new structure might look like.
The meeting with the board was to review the project with its members and get their input on certain design elements.
The plan at this point, Smeriglio said, is to build a 22-foot-wide span that would replace the current, 90-year-old structure that is 16 feet wide, and thus considered “functionally obsolete.”
There is no plan, at this point, to paint double-yellow or white lines on the pavement, he said.
Review board chairman Rob Sanders commented that while the bridge will be 22 feet wide and the road is just over 18 feet wide, it is somewhat of a mismatch.
“It’s like wearing big shoes on small feet,” he said. Acknowledging the federal requirements that the bridge must be a minimum of 22 feet wide, he said he was trying to “protect the scale of the road in a historic district.”
“Are you worried a wider bridge will create faster traffic?” board member Sam Gardner asked.
Sanders said he was concerned “about consistent scale, scale in the neighborhood.”
One of the design issues the board considered was the type of guardrail to be used, an open metal rail system that would allow a view of the Comstock Brook below or a solid structure made either of concrete with a stone veneer or real stone.
Sanders said he preferred the open rails.
“It’s charming to walk the bridge and view the waterfall,” he said. The other members agreed and chose black for the color.
Sanders also asked Tom Lopata, one of the consulting engineers, if the stone abutment on one side of the bridge is sound enough to remain. Lopata said some of the original stonework will remain.
The board members said they wanted to echo that original element in the stone parapet, and after looking at a few veneer choices they selected two that were closest in design.
Marc Burns of the DOT said a stone mason would mock up a design for them.
While Burns was showing a project the DOT recently completed in East Haddam, Sanders latched onto the fact that bridge featured an archway over the water it spanned. He asked if there could be an arch design with the Lovers Lane bridge.
“That would be an aesthetic win,” he said.
Burns said a false arch, which is a design element rather than a construction element, might be possible and he would look into it.
“That takes the industrial off of it,” Sanders said. “This is one of Wilton’s special spots.”