Officials hope to maintain bricks on bridge

Bricks that line the Whittemore Memorial Bridge in Naugatuck shifted due to a design flaw after a reconstruction project finished last year, causing bumps and depressions along the road. -FILE PHOTO

NAUGATUCK — The borough is making one last attempt to keep the bricks along the Whittemore Memorial Bridge before paving the road.

The borough completed a project to reconstruct the bridge, which spans the Naugatuck River along Maple Street, last year. The project included restoring the bridge to how it looked before the Flood of 1955, which led to a decision to lay bricks along the bridge instead of paving the road.

Shortly after the bridge reopened to two-way traffic, bricks along the bridge shifted in areas, creating bumps and depressions along the road. Drainage issues caused the problem with the bricks, officials said, and the issues stemmed from a flaw in the design of the project.

In July, CHA Consulting Inc., the firm that did the design work for the project, agreed to pay the borough $90,000 as part of a settlement over the problems with the bricks. At the time, officials planned to try a few options to save the bricks, and they may have found a way to do so.

Public Works Director James Stewart said the plan is to remove the bricks, take out the drainage blanket, and then lay the bricks in a dry mortar or grout.

Stewart said the borough already did this on a 10-foot-by-10-foot section of the bridge on the southern portion of it in September, and there hasn’t been an issue. He said he is “very optimistic” this method will solve the problem.

Officials are watching the section of the bridge that was recently repaired over the winter to see if it will hold up. If the section makes it through the winter, the borough will do the same thing across both ends of the bridge and whichever sections need it in the middle, Stewart said.

Stewart said the work will be done in-house. There is no cost estimate yet.

Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said he would like to save the bricks. He expects the money from the settlement will more than cover the cost of the repairs.

If the repairs do not work out how the borough hopes, the money will also cover the cost to pave the bridge, which is the borough’s next option.

However, Hess said he would rather keep the bricks than pave the bridge.

“We are going to make every effort to retain the look of the bricks,” Hess said. “It’s not about money, it’s about trying to get the best look we can.”