Main Street Bridge
Vernon’s Main Street is getting a new bridge over the Tankerhoosen River.
The historic 58-foot long elliptical truss bridge, constructed in 1891 by the Berlin Iron Bridge Company, is being replaced. The historic trusses, however, will be preserved and the new bridge will pass between them.
“This new bridge will provide safe passage for people travelling Main Street, while also preserving an important and interesting historic element in the Talcottville Historic District,” Vernon Mayor Dan Champagne said.
Crews with NJR Construction of Torrington have begun working on the project. GM2 of Glastonbury designed the new bridge.
Vernon Town Engineer David Smith said the Main Street bridge is an example of what was once a common bridge constructed to replace wooden bridges. Vernon’s is one of few Berlin Iron bridges still bring used.
“This ingenious design became popular throughout New England and the Midwest as steel began to replace wood as the material of choice for bridges,” Smith said. “Ours is one of the few remaining in service.”
Preserving the historic bridge was important because it serves a historic section of Vernon, Smith said.
“For nearly a century and a half, the Berlin iron works elliptical trusses have provided this community with a safe and secure way to cross the Tankerhoosen River as Main Street connected Talcottville with Vernon,” Smith said. “When I-84 turned Main Street into a cul-de-sac, this bridge continued to link homes and families to their neighbors.”
Twenty five years ago the trusses were retired and a new bridge deck was installed. The trusses, however, were preserved and will be preserved again as the bridge is replaced under the current project.
In addition to the modern bridge elements that will be installed, a new foundation will be poured to carry the load. The original stonework and the iron bridge will be preserved and the old iron work will be cleaned and painted to provide more years of service. A single traffic lane and an area for pedestrians are included in the new bridge.
Access to homes on the northern side of the bridge will be via a temporary access drive built from Hartford Turnpike to Main Street. Access is for residents, contractors and emergency vehicles. The public is asked not due to lack of space for unauthorized vehicles and to keep the construction zone safe.
The project cost is $1.7 million. Design, construction and inspection is covered 80 percent by the federal/state Local Bridge Program, which is administered by the Connecticut Department of Transportation. The remaining 20 percent is paid for by the Town of Vernon.
The project is scheduled to be completed in mid-October.
Construction photos of the Main Street Bridge project
5-28-2021 In the photos below, the modern beams installed 25 years ago have been removed from the structure and the historic iron has been cleaned, primed and painted. This is likely the first time in 130 or more years that anyone has seen the old stone work with the freshly painted wrought iron. - Dave Smith, Town Engineer
An old bridge support beam is removed.
6-15-2021 Although there has been a drop in intensity at the historic Main Street Bridge work site, work is continuing. A subcontractor will be doing geotechnical work for the foundation for the new bridge. And some fabrication work is being done off site.
The repairs made 25 years ago to the bridge have been removed and the original stone abutments and historic trusses are clearly visible.
8-26-2021 The underpinning of the new deck of the Main Street Bridge was moved into place in recent days. The girders will support the deck, concrete and asphalt that will become the roadway the bridge carries across the Tankerhoosen River. A series of bridge rails will be installed to protect the historic eyebrow trusses.