By Thane Grauel
WESTPORT — The first weekend of the Interstate 95 bridge replacement over Saugatuck Avenue began Friday night with lane closures, traffic stoppages and a steady drizzle of rain.
The announced beginning of the effort to demolish and replace the northbound half of the span at Exit 17 was 6 p.m. Around that time, officers from Norwalk, Westport and the State Police were mustering at the Saugatuck Railroad Station’s Parking Lot 1 nearby.
There were many hours of lane closures and outright traffic stoppages overnight Friday into Saturday while crews moved Jersey barriers and reconfigured the travel lanes to two lanes headed south, and two lanes headed north, to traverse the usually southbound side of the bridge. All the while letting what traffic they could to pass through.
The state Department of Transportation has recommended motorists avoid the area. Still, backups and standstill traffic were seen at times between Bridgeport and Norwalk.
The bridge is, in fact, two spans. The northbound span will be demolished over the weekend and its replacement, under construction over Saugatuck Avenue for months, will be slid into place over the next two days.
Work is to be completed by 6 a.m. Monday.
To follow progress of the construction, click here.
The southbound span will be demolished and replaced the weekend of Nov. 3-6. All of I-95’s traffic will be squeezed down to two lanes each direction that weekend as well.
This “lateral slide” method is a part of method known as Advanced Bridge Construction.
The local work is part of the DOT’s $104 million I-95 Norwalk Westport Project. The DOT is running the project. Yonkers Contracting Co. is doing the work. The Federal Highway Administration is funding 90 percent of it, the state 10 percent.
The project area extends from Norwalk to the Saugatuck River Bridge in Westport.
Thane Grauel grew up in Westport and has been a journalist in Fairfield County and beyond for 35 years. Reach him at email@example.com. Learn more about us here.