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O'Dea pushes for bridge project streamlining

Published 11:41 am, Sunday, February 24, 2013
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In an effort to save millions of dollars for local communities, especially New Canaan and Wilton, state Rep. Thomas O'Dea, R-125, has proposed legislation to have state agencies work more efficiently with municipalities on various building projects, particularly those involving bridge repair.

H.B. No. 5547, An Act Establishing a Task Force to Streamline the Process for Approving Bridge Projects, would establish a task force to study and recommend strategies. The task force would include representatives of the state departments of Transportation and Energy and Environmental Protection and will submit proposals and recommendations to the General Assembly not later than Jan. 1.

"The time delays alone with the different state agencies resulted in cost overruns in both New Canaan and Wilton transportation projects that have resulted in a significant hardship on taxpayers," said O'Dea, a member of the Transportation Committee.

In New Canaan, the Lakeview Avenue Bridge project had extensive cost overruns due in part to state requirements and inspection delays, O'Dea said. In Wilton, the bridge over Bald Hill Road, close to a $1 million project, was forced to go through a costly and highly inefficient bureaucratic process in order to be completed.

"The governor is addressing this issue, as well, and it is something that can save taxpayers millions at no cost to the state by simply working more efficiently and improving coordination with local officials," O'Dea said. "If the governor's program addresses all of our concerns, then the need of a task force may be eliminated, but we need to hear more about the governor's program."

At a public hearing, the South Western Regional Metropolitan Planning Organization testified that it may take up to five years to obtain approval and complete construction of a project, and that some of the municipalities' smallest bridges do not qualify for funding, costing those towns more money than large-span bridges.