Shift in bridge’s bricks due to poor drainage

Borough official says company to fix problem

Bricks along the recently-reconstructed Whittemore Memorial Bridge in Naugatuck are shifting. Work to fix the issue is expected to start later this month. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — Just weeks after the borough marked the completion of the $6 million reconstruction of the Whittemore Memorial Bridge with a ribbon cutting ceremony, more repairs are in store for the bridge.

The borough began reconstructing the bridge, which spans the Naugatuck River along Maple Street, in June 2016 to restore it to how it looked before the Flood of 1955. The project included placing bricks along the bridge.

The bridge reopened to two-way traffic again this spring, when most of the work had been completed. However, shortly after reopening both lanes, the bricks along the bridge shifted, creating bumps and depressions.

Public Works Director James Stewart said the problem was caused by water getting under the bricks, and clogged weep holes, which are holes under the bridge designed to drain water. Since the water wasn’t able to properly drain, it would flow to the joints at the edges of the bridge and carry away the sand that the bricks sat on, he said.

After noticing the issue, borough officials initiated talks with Mohawk Northeast, the Plantsville-based construction company that did the work on the bridge, to determine whether the design or the construction of the bridge caused the bricks to shift.

Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said if the problem was due to the design the borough would be responsible to fix the problem. However, if it was due to the construction, the cost would be borne by the company.

Stewart said the company and borough wrapped up discussions this month and the company will fix the bricks at no cost to the borough.

Mohawk will remove the bricks, clear out the weep holes, replace the sand, and replace the bricks, Stewart said. The work is expected to start by the end of October.

While all the weep holes along the bridge will be fixed, the initial brick work will only take place on the northwest quarter of the bridge, Stewart said. The work is being done one quarter at a time to ensure the problem has been fixed before doing the rest of the bridge, he said.

Stewart said it may take up to a month to see if any of the bricks shift, but it could be sooner.

“It didn’t take very long for us to start to see the problem to begin with,” Stewart said.

If it’s successful the bridge will be done in quarters, with each quarter taking one to two days, Stewart said. The bridge will be open to only one lane of travel while the work is done, he said.

A message left with Mohawk Northeast seeking comment was not returned.