And speaking of infrastructure… What happened to the pedestrian bridge?

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HELLO WiltonMedia coverage recently has been full of stories about major infrastructure projects that are, or may soon be, underway in Wilton.

The focus on infrastructure stems in large part from the priority Lynne Vanderslice has placed throughout her tenure. But is also being fueled by millions of dollars ($5.4 million, to be exact) in grants now available from the US Bailout Act (ARPA).

Needless to say, many ideas are already on the table, some necessary and others more discretionary. They include improvements to trails and parks in Wilton, repairs to the City Hall complex, a new grass pitch, upgrades to the emergency communications system, and a wide range of other projects.

But among the long list of projects under discussion, one GWM reader noticed that there was no mention of plans for a long-awaited pedestrian bridge linking Wilton Center at the station. (Thank you for your question on our Facebook page, Connie Jo Dickerson!)

So what happened to those plans? GWM contacted Wilton’s Director of the Department of Public Works and Municipal Engineer Frank Smeriglio for an update.

Background on the bridge

Efforts to make the pedestrian bridge a reality date back to at least 2007.

In February 2020, the City finally received a commitment from the State Department of Transportationpromising $1,405,200 in subsidies for the construction of the bridge.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the project’s momentum, with state-level slowdowns that all but paralyzed planning.

Wilton’s DPW sent the required engineering plans to the state, where they languished for months.

Plans call for the bridge to be accessible to pedestrians behind the Red Rooster Pub (or from Meadows of Merwin), along the Norwalk River Valley Trail.

On the station side, the bridge entrance would be just behind the small station structure.

Next steps

Smeriglio said GWM the City answered all of the State’s questions about the plans. The next step is for the State to issue the authorization to Wilton to put the project in competition.

Wilton pushed the state to receive clearance over the winter, in order to secure the most competitive bids.

Smeriglio remains hopeful that the authorization will arrive soon.

“There is still a good move that we can bid in March [or] April,” he said.

After a phase of “shop drawings” by the selected contractor in late spring, Smeriglio indicates that the bridge could be built this summer.

Haven’t the costs increased?

The grant commitment was a huge win for Wilton, as it was to cover the entire cost of the project, including construction costs and administrative costs.

But with two years since the commitment was made, it seems likely that bids will be higher than originally expected.

the GOOD The news is that the state commitment includes contingencies for such cost increases.

“When bids come back, if they’re higher, those numbers go up to the state,” Smeriglio said. “There are provisions in this grant that allow for certain increases.”

“We just need this permission to bid,” he added.

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