An aerial shot of progress on the bridge, taken in May 2010.
In April, in a gesture that was symbolic, appropriate and moving, representatives of the Farmington Fire Department embedded Vincent DiPietro’s shield into the wet concrete of the span of the bridge that will forever bear his name.
By Halloween, the $20.8 million Vincent DiPietro Memorial Bridge will be finished and, a few days later, dedicated to the man who dedicated his own life to protecting the citizens of Farmington.
New sheet aluminum will be added to the sides holding a plaque, identifying the bridge after DiPietro in a November ceremony. Family, friends and colleagues — who, by the dozens, urged the state to rename the old bridge that carried Route 4 over the Farmington River — will attend the event.
On Time and at Budget
The Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) Route 4 Bridge project was awarded on March 14, 2008 to Middlesex Corporation of Littleton, Mass., and it began 10 days later. It is being finished on schedule, just as Mr. DiPietro would have liked.
The estimated original cost was $20.2 million, according to Project Engineer Christopher Zukowski. The estimated actual cost comes in only slightly higher at $20.8 million.
The impressive project team consisted of owner ConnDOT; Zukowski; inspectors Berger Lehman Associates PC; Michael Solie, resident engineer; bridge designer, Purcell Associates; design liaison Close, Jensen and Miller P.C.; and design liaison, William Stark, along with contractor Middlesex Corp., Project Managers Jeffrey Roig, Bryan Tuxbury and Carl Berry and Superintendent Town of Farmington, Director of Public Works, Russell Arnold
“The entire team partnered the project and made it a huge success,” said Zukowksi.
Farmington is a relatively small town, while the bridge is a large construction project, in scope and duration.
“It consisted of large equipment — Link Belt LS238H crane, excavators, loaders, concrete pumps, diesel hammers; large work area — two temporary trestles across (the) entire width of the Farmington River, all providing great interest to the local community,” said Zukowksi. “The bridge is part of a major commuter route. The public can see daily changes to the site as most residents use the bridge daily.”
Honoring Local Chief
The existing bridge was replaced after a major flood washed out Farmington in 1955. The new one is being named after a man who served his nation and his community for nearly that long.
Vincent DiPietro served on the Fire Department for 34 years in Farmington. He served as firefighter, Fire Chief and Fire Marshal. He also had served honorably in Vietnam. Mere months before he died of cancer in August of 2008, he was given a proclamation by the town, highlighting his many accomplishments and dedication.
A grassroots campaign, including dozens of letters written by colleagues and officials, town and state representatives and fellow firefighters, resulted in the renaming of the Route 4 Bridge to Chief DiPietro’s honor and memory.
Letters such as this:
“Vinny left the town of Farmington — and especially its Fire Department — a much safer place than he found it 34 years ago. On a personal level, Vinny was a mentor and a friend to me. Vinny was quick with a cup of coffee and a reassuring smile and always willing to share the knowledge he had acquired while on the job… Although it’s easier said than done, it’s something Vinny embodied and something that I endeavor to take forward with me in my career.
“Naming the Route 4 Bridge after Fire Marshal Vincent DiPietro would be an amazing tribute to an amazing man who did so much for Farmington.”
Mary-Ellen L. Harper
Director of Fire & Rescue Services
“This letter is to request your consideration in naming the new bridge in Farmington after Vincent DiPietro. He was an aggressive firefighter, an honest town of Farmington employee, a fair Fire Marshal and a personal friend of mine. We worked together for all of my 31 years for the town of Farmington Fire Department.
Vince was born in Farmington, went to Farmington schools, worked in Farmington and lived in Farmington all of his life. He was a good friend of mine, and I would be proud to see his name on Farmington’s new bridge.”
Firefighter/ EMT/Fire Inspector
Palm Coast, Florida
And dozens more. Their writers will all be in attendance in early November when the bridge is officially dedicated, in a ceremony organized by point man Gary Larkum.
Wider Bridge for Traffic
According to the ConnDOT White Paper, Project 51-257/262 includes the complete replacement of the Route 4 Bridge over the Farmington River as well as capacity and safety improvements to the Route 4 intersection at Town Farm Road.
Town Farm Road is the entrance road to the Tunxis Plantation golf courses, and the Farmington Club banquet and meeting facility.
The original structure was built in 1955 and was approximately 400 by 38 ft. (121.9 by 11.5 m) wide and consisted of four simple supported reinforced concrete deck spans. The existing bridge only carried one lane of traffic in each direction, and was considered hydraulically inadequate since it was unable to allow river flow during a 100-year storm event to pass beneath it. The average annual daily traffic on this section of Route 4 is 23,900 vehicles per day (2008 estimated).
The new bridge also is 400-ft. (121.9 m) long, but is 58 ft. (17.6 m) wide and provides capacity improvements such as an additional travel lane in the eastbound direction, shoulder widths and new pedestrian sidewalks in both directions. New pedestrian overlooks also have been constructed on both the north and south sides of the bridge. The pedestrian overlooks are accessible from the sidewalks on the bridge and include benches for public use.
There is an existing parking lot immediately adjacent to the bridge, which provided limited access to the Farmington River. As part of this project, the parking area has been made larger and a new handicap accessible fishing pier has been constructed. This provides enhanced public access to the river. The new access road to this area was widened and realigned to provide safer access to and from the area.
Concrete form liners have been used on the outside of the abutment stem walls, and along the inside and outside of the wing walls to provide a northeast dry stack stonewall pattern. Form liners also were used on the deck overhang fascias and to provide a weathered limestone look. The weathered limestone pattern also was used at the pedestrian overlooks and to construct 4-ft. high concrete pedestals along the north and south sidewalks across the bridge. The pedestals support new decorative light standards that were put in place in September.
Intersection improvements at the Town Farm Road intersection include new turning lanes on Route 4 in both the eastbound and westbound directions. These will shelter traffic turning from Route 4 onto Town Farm Road while providing continuity in the Route 4 through traffic lanes.
Working With Community
Extensive landscaping is being provided along the entire length of the project from the Town Farm Road intersection at the west end of the project to the east side of the Farmington River at the east end of the project.
The bridge crosses the Farmington River within an area of concern relative to Connecticut’s Natural Diversity Data Base. The Wildlife Division of the Bureau of Natural Resources had indicated the presence of fresh water mussels within the limits of permanent and temporary environmental impact areas. The contract included provisions to relocate various freshwater mussel species prior to the start of construction.
Although the public might have been frustrated with traffic congestion, unwanted noise and day-to-day disruptions, residents and local businesses are pleased with the appearance of the final product of the new bridge structure.
“The decorative form liners; wide public-friendly sidewalks; decorative overlooks, complete with benches and quaint bridge lighting all combine to create a bridge that we can all be proud to have in our community,” according to ConnDOT.
“We, the project team, DOT and contractor, worked closely together to schedule the operations to make the least impact on the community. Through open communication with select residents, we informed them ahead of time of our operations (which might affect them),” added Zukowski. “This dialogue eased their frustration. The gesture on our part showed them that we cared and this went a long way in keeping the peace. We utilized changeable message boards posted on either side of the work zone to alert motorists to upcoming stage changes as well as other unexpected activities. All announcements were posted on our ConnDOT website, as well.”
The town of Farmington was incorporated in 1645. Known as the “Mother Town,” Farmington was partitioned into the towns of Avon, Bristol, Plainville, New Britain, Berlin, Southington, and Burlington.
Today, Farmington comprises 28.7 sq. mi. along the Farmington River. It is a residential suburb in the Hartford Metropolitan area that has retained its distinctive character through maintenance of its historic districts and careful land use planning for the future.
Route 4 is one of the major arteries in Farmington, perhaps the most direct route to I-84. I-84 is a major East-West interstate highway that services Hartford as well as Waterbury to Danbury, Conn.
Tricky Sewer Work
Zukowski said that a most interesting aspect of the project was, “The close proximity, upstream, of an existing sanitary sewer siphon line under the river that serves as a main trunk line to the sewage treatment facility nearby. Peak flows were estimated at 9 million gallons per day. To avoid an environmental disaster, the designers determined that the use of vibratory equipment would not be allowed.
“The concern was liquefaction of the granular soils in the streambed which could force displacement of the 24-inch and 18-inch concrete sewer pipes, under the river. The result: Impact driving of all temporary trestle piles, sheet piling for cofferdams and permanent 12-inch steel piles utilizing an APE D19 diesel hammer,” Zukowski continued. “This operation was not only slower than vibratory, but noisy as well. The noise was the larger concern given the close proximity of neighbors, and extended (contractor mandated) work hours during the environmental window forced some pile installation to occur during the night time hours.”
As a result of this tricky section of underwater construction, the contractor was forced to leave behind approximately 2,600 linear ft. of 24-inch round steel piles in the river during the Stage 1 trestle removal since without the use of vibratory equipment they could not break free the piles. “They attempted (it) with the use of pneumatic extractor, to no avail,” added Zukowski.
The contractor was able to demonstrate the effectiveness of a variable moment vibratory hammer to minimize vibration for Stage 2. Through an extensive monitoring program, at Middlesex’s expense, all parties agreed to allow the use of the “new” technology for Stage 2 pile installations.
“The Stage 2 trestle and bridge construction was further away from the sewer line, providing a better factor of safety. Advance testing revealed that the distance from the hammer was directly proportional to the magnitude of the vibrations,” said Zukowski. “As you are aware, a variable moment hammer uses the rotating of eccentric weights to counteract the excessive vibration which occurs in a vibratory hammer during start-up and shut-down. All piles were initially set with the PVE 40VM vibratory hammer and then driven to refusal with the diesel impact hammer. This allowed Stage 2 to progress quicker and quieter.”
Public opinion of this challenging and meticulous work has been good throughout. Project personnel worked closely with local businesses and adjacent property owners to keep them well informed of upcoming construction activities. Difficult activities included pile driving operations and nighttime activities where noise was a concern. Middlesex Corp., the contractor, was willing to adjust work schedules in an effort to mitigate noise during the most sensitive periods.
Under contractor Middlesex, sub-contractors for the job included:
*ADF Industries - Installation of metal beam rail and end anchorages, decorative fence, open bridge rail, split rail fence
*Algar - Concrete formwork, placement of concrete and concrete finishing
*Atlantic Diving and Welding - Weld pipe pile for temporary trestle, cut trestle pipe pile below the mud line
*Conquip Systems LLC - Install shear connectors
*Costello Industries - Milling of existing bituminous
*Cotton Hill Farm - Installation of plants and grass, removal of invasive vegetation
*CT Paving - Placement of bituminous concrete
*H.B. Flemming - Installation of Stage 1 pipe pile
*KTM Electrical - Installation of project lighting, traffic signals, vehicle loop detectors, all conduit and conductors
*Lintec - Installation of reinforcing steel
*Martin Laviero Contractor Inc. - Installation of concrete sidewalk and ramps
*Northeastern Clearing Inc. - Clearing existing vegetation within construction limits
*S.W.C. Enterprises - Erecting structural steel, installation of stay in place forms, removal of existing steel girders
*Safety Markings Inc. - Painting temporary and permanent pavement markings
*Santoro Inc. - Installation of membrane on bridge deck and installation of silicone and asphalt plug joints, saw cutting bituminous concrete
*VMS Construction Company - Installation of project drainage
*Witch Enterprises – Saw cutting concrete. CEG