By Kym Soper Journal Inquirer
MANCHESTER — A massive steel truss pedestrian bridge spanning the gap in the Cheney railroad berm has been installed, but it’s not yet open to hikers, town officials warn.
“It’s still a construction site,” Planning and Economic Development Director Mark Pellegrini said of the gateway area to Center Springs Park sandwiched between Broad and Edgerton streets. “They’re still working on the pylons and abutments.”
The 175-foot-long “modified bowstring” bridge was delivered in early June and erected within a week, he said.
Located behind an Asian restaurant, the bridge, with its weathered steel finish and hardwood deck, is about 25 feet above ground level. It will eventually carry pedestrians along an elevated trail system being carved out by the town and the Manchester Land Trust.
The bridge is part of a much larger $1.7 million project that included repairs to the Edgerton Street culvert that had failed and caused a sinkhole in the road on the west bank of Center Springs pond.
The project is being funded primarily through a 2011 bond referendum to fix the failed culvert and connect a redeveloped Broad Street to the park.
Plans had originally called for a precast, arched pedestrian tunnel through the elevated railroad berm. But citing concerns about pedestrian safety, Directors decided in a 6-3 vote in September to scrap that idea in favor of a more open bridge.
Costs were increased by about $20,000, Pellegrini said, adding that was “way below what we had expected.” Contingency funds paid for the overage.
Negotiations to purchase the restaurant property have stalled, meanwhile, and the Redevelopment Agency is considering other alternative pathways to get to the bridge and into the park.
Town officials said in February they expected to soon close on a deal to buy the Broad Street restaurant in order to raze it and create an enhanced park entrance.
Pellegrini said this week that the two parties have broken off talks, however, and in March RDA members asked local architects Fuss & O’Neill to present alternatives.
Drawings show three options, including:
- A path through the parking lot immediately south of the restaurant in a vacant portion of the neighboring strip mall.
- A split path just north of the restaurant by the dispensary methadone clinic that would lead under the bridge and also to Hemlock Street.
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