Barnhart’s Hub Bridge In Place In Meriden

The 300-foot Meriden pedestrian bridge was hoisted into place Thursday at the downtown Hub park. A crane company spokesman called it the largest bridge of its type the company has maneuvered. The 60-ton bridge spans the park and Harbor Brook, uncovered last week for the first time in decades. Crews have been building the bridge abutments for weeks, and a crane operating specialist was called in to lift the prefabricated bridge structure atop the support piers.

The Middletown-based Marino Crane, a division of Barnhart Northeast Inc., lifted the bridge into place.

Al Ouellette, a sales representative and former crane operator at Marino, said that in his 32 years at the company, “as far as pedestrian bridges go, this one is the largest that we’ve put together that’s a single-stand bridge.”

Pieces of the bridge were fabricated at a company in Alabama, and were delivered this week on a convoy of five trucks, which needed special oversize load permits from the state Department of Transportation to cross into Connecticut. Until the permits were issued, the trucks were parked in Fishkill, New York, near the Hudson River.

Ouellette said crews pieced together three of the delivered parts to create the main, center part of the bridge. The remaining two pieces make up the ends of the bridge.

“First they put the three sections together, then they had to break down the crane and move it to set the fourth and fifth sections,” Ouellette said. “It was quite a job.” He added that Marino was subcontracted by Hartland Building-Restoration Co., which supplied the iron workers.

Considerations for the lift plan were worked out a month or so in advance, Ouellette said, in order to keep an orderly and safe procedure for building and lifting the bridge into place.

Now that the bridge skeleton is in place, said crews will put metal deck pans in place, said Robert J. Bass, the city’s public works director. These will support concrete decking that will be poured next. Following that, electrical work will be done to support lighting features on the bridge.

Once the bridge is complete, the next step for work at the park – designed first and foremost to serve as a flood control basin – is to divert Clark Brook and finish the culvert at East Main and State streets, which will eliminate the pile of dirt in the northwest corner of the site.

While the bridge was put in place, work elsewhere on the site has made significant progress. Harbor Brook, which for decades had run under the site, was unearthed last week.

Passers-by can see water in the bottom of the stone channel that snakes through the site. Bass said this is both Harbor Brook and Jordan Brook, though this time of year, Jordan Brook is nearly dry.

“During this dry period, Jordan basically doesn’t flow,” Bass said. Clark Brook, which also runs under the site, is the last to be contained in its enclosed conduit.

Clark Brook, too, should be diverted into the stone channel in the next few weeks, Bass said.

At the north end of the site, a small portion of Harbor Brook is being diverted so crews can shore up concrete work near Mill Street, Bass said. The water is temporarily being pumped around a 20-foot area.

Bass said the concrete work should be done this week, allowing Harbor Brook to flow through the full channel.

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