"Build the Damned Bridge"
"Build the Damned Bridge"
Why this petition matters
Infinite money is not an appropriate limit to governmental spending on any project, much less an 18-foot bridge. If nothing else, New Milford’s governing body – the Town Council – must understand that the money that is taxed from New Milford Residents is not their money, and should be treated far more delicately than spending hundreds of thousands – and probably millions – more of our money on the Cherniske Road Bridge project to cater to the whim of the loudest 5 or 6 people in the proverbial room.
$600,000 of ARPA money has already been set aside for this project which could have been spent in other places. Had the Department of Public Works/Town Council simply accepted the early draft design proposals and moved on with the project, that amount would have not only certainly covered the replacement of the bridge in totality, prompt agreement to let DPW do their jobs would have seen this project completed years ago. The project is now set to not only not even break ground until next year, delays and the demands of the said loudest “half dozen” people have cause the project’s costs to balloon to well over a million dollars.
After over 5 years, four series of bridge designs, one emergency act, and two DPW Directors worth of bending-over-backwards to cater to whim of said “half dozen” and their interference into the specific minutia of the bridge’s design, what is on the table now are two competing designs: a two-lane bridge and a one-lane bridge. Building to a one-lane bridge, by current estimates, will fail to meet the demands of the State of Connecticut, will disqualify the Town for a 50/50 matching grant (whose window for application closes on April 30th of this year) from the State, and will, at net, cost New Milford taxpayers at least $830,000 more than already spent, and, at net, $600,000 more than a two-lane bridge design. It is also likely that a “box culvert” design – rather than the proposed poured-in-place design – would save hundreds of thousands of dollars still. Further delays in the project’s run will only increase construction costs, and the current delays have forced environmental studies which will have no legal impact on the bridge’s design and construction regardless of what the studies find, and will only act to increase costs and add time. The current delays have also led the Army Corps of Engineers to a position where they are demanding a two-foot “free-board”, which would increase the bridge’s construction costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars further still.
It is patently obvious that a two-lane bridge along a road which is two lanes for the entirety of its miles of run except for those 18 feet is a significantly more safe design than a one-lane bridge, which would force drivers to face two-ton hunks of steel in opposite directions down the same stretch of road. This is an undue danger regardless of what speed the drivers are traveling, and this is the primary basis for why the State refuses to go along with the single-lane bridge design.
The demands of said “half dozen” have delayed the project to its breaking point – literally. The structural supports of the bridge have critically failed, and are beginning to collapse entirely and in large chunks. As such, the bridge has been closed for almost an entire year, and will continue to be so until the project completes. With other bridges being set for replacement along the Cherniske Road detour, both our fire and police chiefs have sent formal safety concerns for the provision of emergency services to the parts of New Milford surrounding the bridge, and have requested swift – if necessary, emergency – action be taken to remedy the situation immediately. As such, the Town has considered purchasing an “emergency” temporary bridge structure, which would allow the Cherniske Road Bridge to temporarily open in short order for what will likely be over $200,000.
There is no reason to be treating the hard-earned money and the majority of residents in New Milford in this manner. There is no reason to allow the most obnoxious and belligerent “half dozen” to justify the interference with the pedantic minutia of engineering design at DPW to this degree. Consent of the governed requires their consent, and there is no reason to believe with any sincerity the majority of this town is willing to have their money spent and time wasted in this manner.
It is, therefore, the opinion of the here-signed, that it is time for the New Milford Town Council and the Department of Pubic Works to move forward with the bridge’s design in the manner that will waste the least of our money and our time: two lanes, with, if it saves time and money, a box culvert. It is time to end this conversation, and to reject the policy of “the squeakiest wheel gets the grease”, a policy which only reduces to the play-ground rules of “the biggest and most obnoxious bully gets his way”. It is time to let the reason and good sense - which our elected officials were elected for - to prevail.
It is time to let DPW do their damned jobs, and build the damned bridge.