In a project that came in $2.3 million under budget and two months ahead of schedule, state and local officials praised the completion of the year-long rehabilitation of the Arrigoni Bridge.
"Middletown and Portland together at last!" said Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro during Tuesday's ceremony on the Portland side of the bridge. "The historic Arrigoni Bridge is reborn this afternoon."
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and James Redeker, Commissioner of the State Department of Transportation, joined DeLauro, Middletown Mayor Dan Drew, Portland First Selectwoman Susan Bransfield, federal transportation officials, and Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce President Larry McHugh to celebrate the completion of the year-long rehabilitation of the Arrigoni Bridge.
"In the worst times, we actually moved forward," Malloy said. "And that's exactly what we're trying to do in the state of Connecticut today. Sixty people were employed at one time or another during the entire project.
This is a great time to be making an investment in our infrastructure and in our future."
The original 1938 bronze bridge marker was unveiled during the ceremony. It contains the names of the Middletown and Portland Bridge Committee, including that of Joseph P. Bransfield, who is the Portland selectwoman's husband's grandfather.
It was taken down during repairs and will be permanently affixed to the center of the bridge.
“Thanks to the investment of the Federal Highway Administration and the hard work of the DOT, today is a good day for Connecticut travelers,” Malloy said.
“Strengthening our economy requires addressing our aging infrastructure and transportation network. For 74 years, the Arrigoni Bridge has been an integral part of our highway system—with these repairs it will last long into the future. I applaud our DOT crews for their good work and especially thank the people of Middletown and Portland for their patience during the construction.”
"This is a shining example of what can happen in America now," said Drew. "For anyone that's ready to write off America or the American worker or the state of Connecticut, they are betting on the wrong people because when people come together ... and put their nose to the grindstone and work together with that can-do American spirit and can-do Yankee ingenuity, this is the kind of success story that comes out of it."
This June, the final phase of Arrigoni Bridge construction was expected to end by Nov. 13. “We are in the home stretch, we fully expect to complete on time, we’re slightly ahead of schedule,” said Kenneth E. Fargnoli at the time. He's the state Department of Transportation engineer coordinating the $19.4 million bridge project.
The original estimate was for $16,947,000.
Begun in May 2011, the three-phase $19.7 million project included replacing the bridge deck as well as sidewalks and concrete barriers.
The work created 60 jobs for Connecticut residents in construction, planning, and design. Construction wrapped up in September 2012, two months ahead of the expected November completion date.
Federal funds covered 80 percent of the project costs. "I was proud to be there to be part of that fight to get the $17.6 million," DeLauro said.
"This bridge is a part of the National Highway System, a system of interregional highways important to the nation's economy, defense, and mobility,” said Amy Jackson-Grove, regional administrator of the Federal Highway Administration.
“The FHWA is proud to work with our partners at the Connecticut Department of Transportation and invest federal funds on needed repairs to keep this bridge in a state of good repair."
James P. Redeker is Commissioner of the Connecticut DOT. “Getting all four lanes of traffic reopened early was a major accomplishment and a testament to the diligence of the DOT staff, its contractors, and the towns of Middletown and Portland," he said.
The 1,200 foot Arrigoni Bridge, named after advocate Charles J. Arrigoni, who served in the State Assembly from 1933-1936 and in the State Senate from 1937-1940, first opened in 1938 and carries 35,000 vehicles per day over the Connecticut River between Middletown and Portland.