Valley Road Bridge over Horse Tavern Brook
Replacement of Bridge #04956
Town of Fairfield, Connecticut
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  • FAQ

    How is a bridge project funded?

    Within the State of Connecticut, bridges are either owned by a municipality or by the state, with a few minor exceptions. The owner of the bridge is responsible for all maintenance, including rehabilitation and replacement. Bridges owned by municipalities can be funded either solely by the municipality or in conjunction with State or Federal funds. Under the State Local Bridge Program, municipalities receive a maximum grant of 33% of a bridge’s design and construction costs. Under the Federal Local Bridge Program, municipalities are reimbursed 80% of the design and construction costs while the balance 20% of the project costs comes from municipal funds.

    Who are the stakeholders in a bridge project?

    Stakeholders of a bridge project include Municipal representatives, such as Elected Officials, Public Works, Engineering, Economic Development, Parks and Recreation, Historical Society, and Local Inlands/Wetlands; and State and Federal agencies such as Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT), Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (ConnDEEP), US Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE), US Coast Guard (USCG) and State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).

    Why does the design process take so long?

    A bridge design, apart from Structural Engineering, involves Highway Design, development of Maintenance and Protection of Traffic plans during construction, Geotechnical Investigations and the need to perform Hydrologic, Hydraulics and Scour Analyses. In order to provide oversight of the use of Federal funds, the design is reviewed by the Connecticut Department of Transportation at various stages of the design process. Obtaining permits from State and Federal Agencies also add time to the design process.

    Why detour traffic during construction?

    The detouring of traffic for the rehabilitation or replacement construction of a bridge results in a shorter construction duration, lower construction costs and a safer work zone during construction for both the resident community and the workers. Detouring is not always possible due to the lack of a short detour route and/or the disinterest of the community being affected. In some bridge rehabilitation projects, detour simply is not possible because of the type of existing construction to work with.

    What is Hydrology and Hydraulics?

    Hydrology is the science used to determine the amount of water that will flow towards a particular bridge during/after a storm event. Hydraulics is the science used to determine water surface elevations that will result when a particular volume of water flows through a river channel.

    Why can’t a bridge just be made long enough to meet our needs?

    Care must be taken to ensure that any lengthening of the bridge does not worsen flooding conditions downstream of the bridge. When the size of a bridge opening is increased, water that used to back up behind that bridge is allowed to pass through it. While this may decrease water surface elevations upstream of a bridge (i.e. reduce flooding), downstream water surface elevations are increased. This effectively moves a flooding problem downstream without solving it. Care must be taken to ensure that any upstream relief from flooding does not impact properties located downstream of a bridge. This is not only good design practice, but is also required by State and Local laws.

    What is scour?

    Scour is the most common cause of bridge failure in the U.S., and is defined as the erosion of stream bed material around and/or beneath a bridge substructure element (abutment, column, or pier) caused by the flow of water around or adjacent to the bridge. Excessive scour can undermine a substructure element and lead to a partial or total bridge collapse.