The Congress Street Bridge Challenge

Ganim, Congress Street bridge
Ganim stands near the former Congress Street Bridge. CT Post photo Christian Abraham.

For years the former Congress Street Bridge has been a must campaign stop for local, state and federal candidates for public office. The transportation void cuts off a key access point across the Pequonnock River from the East Side to Downtown. The price tag for a new bridge is upwards of $45 million. Mayor Joe Ganim says the city will move forward on trying to bridge the dollars to make it happen.

More from CT Post reporter Brian Lockhart:

On Congress Street, Mayor Joe Ganim wants bustle. More specifically, cars and pedestrians crossing over a new Congress Street bridge. “We’re going to make a real push for it,” he said.

The city is moving ahead on borrowing $450,000 to study how best to restore the connection. The Ganim administration is also looking at lessening the construction cost by having that section of the Pequonnock declared off limits to the type of large boats that once required an expensive drawbridge.

“We want to look at the possibility of a vehicle and pedestrian causeway versus a (movable) bridge,” said Tom Gill, Ganim’s economic development chief. “The businesses located north of the Congress Street Bridge, none of them have used any type of barging or boating in years.”

Full story here.



    1. Jim Fox–Please explain what warranted that comment. Is it because it is a positive post? Now you know I am not going to cater to your anti-Ganim club. It is draining.

      1. Stevie, are you Bipolar??? It is time to connect the neighborhoods, what Flucking Neighborhood? There’s not one house in this so called Neighborhood, do you know where the Congress St. Bridge is, Stevie???

        OIB is the anti-Ganim Club, that you used to enjoy when you were up Finch’s ass, REMEMBER?! You called Ganim every name under the sun!!!

        This Bridge has been in disrepair for the last 35 years plus, I call it the Jim Himes Bridge, the best Himes could do was get a few bucks for benches and some small trees. Himes promised to fix it when he first ran for office against Shays; we’re still waiting, Jimbo!

        The Congress St. Bridge should have been replaced 25 years ago when we could have received DOT money. The last number I heard to replace it was $70 million, now it’s going to be another Mega-project, this is something the taxpayers should and can live without, we’re still hemorrhaging from the last Joe Ganim tax increase!

        1. Jim Fox, you walked the streets supporting Ganim. You assaulted me regularly because I supported Finch. You don’t like Ganim? Take it up with him. You come across as a mental degenerate. Your rants are all over the place. You don’t have to respond to my comments. You can attack Ganim. I won’t criticize you. I am entitled to vote and support any person I choose. I am not looking for your approval and acceptance. I prefer not to be part of your anti-Ganim club. You can write your I love Maria Pereira posts as though that is not kissing ass and she can tell you how funny you are. If my positive posts offend you, good. I choose not to lower myself to verbal attacks on you. You should be embarrassed the way you kissed Ganim’s ass and now doing character assassinations. Good thing the Mayor and his supporters do not lower themselves to respond to your insane rants. I personally do not think Ganim is doing so bad and those who are over the top critical are people I am not interested in, so just kindly move on and be respectful even though it is tough for you.

          1. Jim Fox, I certainly do know where the Bridge is located. If you had a clue about economic development, you would understand the negative impact that closed bridge has had on the Downtown. To give you an idea, the timeframe they built the connector that cut off the downtown was the time the downtown began to decay.

            Having access to the downtown from Congress Street is key and vital to our downtown expansion. You sir, may not agree with my commentary, but I really am just stating facts from an economic development point of view. You have to look at the big picture and the future of our city.

            You and I may not live to see a thriving downtown, but these are necessary steps to expand, gentrify and populate neighborhoods.

            Ganim looking into this is as crucial to our future as rebuilding the Pleasure Beach Bridge. Living in Black Rock your interest may not be with the Congress Street Bridge or Pleasure Beach Bridge. You need to look at the entire city. Cutting off a limb is not conducive to good circulation. Rebuilding these bridges will improve access to areas and make them thrive. Think about it, Jim. Attacking me for no reason really does make you look like an idiot. I have friends who read this blog and I do not appreciate wasting my time responding to degenerates like yourself. If your goal is to alienate me from this blog, you are doing a great job. I have other avenues to voice my opinion. My opinion unlike yours has value.

  1. Okay, let me see if I can save the city some money here.

    Rather than a study that will takes years to complete, try this. Take a page from Manafort Brothers, they did the overpasses for Lindley Street. They were on schedule to do this job by a deadline. Any overruns were going to cost thousands of dollars per day.

    The bridges were build off-site and lowered in place, done.

    The city can copy this form of construction to get the job done in a month if they wanted to.

    So they fix the bridge, what is the next plan after that? Is this a deal-breaker for any future development for the city if this doesn’t get done? After all, how long has it been since a bridge was there?

    Take a look at how Manafort did the job, it can get done so much faster, and cheaper too.

    Just my two.

    1. The Congress St. Bridge has to be a bascule bridge (sometimes referred to as a drawbridge), a moveable bridge with a counterweight that continuously balances a span, or “leaf,” throughout its upward swing to provide clearance for boat traffic. That’s why it’s cost-prohibitive when you have navigable waters to deal with.

      1. Jim, there is no longer any reason for having a drawbridge. The Kaufman (Hoffman) fuel tanks have been removed and the East Washington bridge is not a drawbridge.

          1. Congress Street Bridge (Connecticut)
            From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
            Congress Street Bridge
            Locale Bridgeport, Connecticut
            Official name Congress Street Bridge
            Total length 425 feet (130 m)
            Width 55 feet (17 m)
            Opened 1910
            Closed 1997; demolished in 2010
            The Congress Street Bridge was a movable deck-girder Scherzer rolling-lift bridge in Bridgeport, Connecticut, United States. In 1909, the City of Bridgeport tasked a special commission to oversee the construction of a bridge at Congress Street. The original construction was completed in 1911 for $300,000. The bridge served as a street car, vehicle and passenger bridge throughout its service life. In 1997, the bridge was closed after the Connecticut Department of Transportation found the substructure to be moving. The bridge was demolished in 2010 and $40 million funding for a new bridge has since been secured. The Congress Street bridge was on the Connecticut Historical Commission’s list of bridges.

            1 History
            2 Demolition
            3 Importance
            4 See also
            5 References

            In 1909, the City of Bridgeport created a special commission to oversee the construction of a bridge at Congress Street. A local engineer, Raymond F. Stoddard was hired as design consultant and obtained the license to use the Scherzer design. A Scherzer rolling-lift bridge with a double-leaf bascule was chosen for construction. The design is a Deck-type plate girder bridge; using two plate girders to support the deck. The Scherzer bascule was a popular design because it avoided the expense of high-stress pivot bearings; though it requires stronger foundations to support the weight of the bridge’s operation. The engineering firm, J. R. Worcester and Company designed and constructed the concrete-arch approach and Fort Pitt Bridge Works fabricated the movable bridge. The cost of construction was $300,000, which was offset through funding from the Connecticut Company. A contemporary account from the Hartford Courant gave stated the contract was for $305,000 to Snare, Tristo and Company. The bridge was opened to the public July 16, 1910.

            The Congress Street Bridge spanned the Pequonnock River and was designed to carry both street cars, vehicles and pedestrians across the river. It was closed and left in the “open position” in 1997 when the Connecticut Department of Transportation found that the substructure was moving. With its closure, traffic has been diverted to the East Washington Avenue Bridge. In 2002, the estimated cost to repair the bridge was $30 million, which could be partly funded by Connecticut’s “Local Bridge Program”. A total of $5.8 million would be provided by the State of Connecticut with an additional $8.8 million loan.

            According to Congressman Jim Himes’ website, the demolition funding was appropriated in 2009 and consisted of more than $2 million through federal funding. The money was funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Comprehensive Appropriations Act of 2009, and a Community Development Block Grant. According to the Connecticut Post, the State of Connecticut funded $1.2 million for the demolition of the bridge, and the first phase of the project was expected to cost $500,000. The contract for the demolition of the bridge was given to S&R Corporation and the first task was to remove the eastern portion of the bridge. The entire process was expected to take six weeks to demolish the bridge. It was estimated that another $450,000 would be needed to remove the bridge’s concrete counter-weights and $8 million to remove the approaches. In 2010, the Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Pequonnock River, Bridgeport, CT struck the rule pertaining to the operation of the bridge due to its removal.

            The Congress Street Bridge was on Connecticut Historical Commission’s list of bridges. Local businesses and residents have claimed that are experiencing reductions in traffic as a result of the closure of the bridge and that it has increased emergency response times. In 2002, Bridgeport’s official historian, Charles W. Brilvitch, stated that the City of Bridgeport promised P. T. Barnum to keep the bridge open and free, forever. The promise was made when the city purchased the previous bridge from Barnum and annexed East Bridgeport in 1864. However, limited funds became a concern, with the money needing to be directed to more important projects.

            As of 2013, federal funding has secured $40 million for a new bridge, but estimations project $60 million would be needed to complete the project. In a 2008 letter to Congress, the rehabilitation of the bridge was projected to secure 440 jobs as a “shovel-ready” project example.

  2. Last week Ganim2 was in a photo-op video with demolition of a blighted East End property (that took years for action) and this week it’s on a bridge that has been discussed for 30 years (and used to have a $30 Million budget). Another photo-op? You bet.

    Well Mayor Ganim2, there is another 30-year or longer problem in Bridgeport and it has to do with the operation of the urban public school system. By any number of factors of accountability the system needs a turnaround, to get all stakeholders, youth, parents, teachers, administrators, mentors, volunteers, security forces, cafeteria workers and others INCLUDING THE MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL to come to the table, express their vision and current issues and then LISTEN TO ALL THE OTHER STAKEHOLDERS. It would be a great Christmas gift to the children of the community for the adults, parents and others of that same community to pick up their responsibility with a five-year plan of improvement, reviewed and extended annually, communicated and reported regularly and where the majority of people are on board.

    Fail that and we fail the youngest and most vulnerable, Mayor Joe. Try it, enough with the pictures until the number of competent and tested graduates from high school begins to increase. Stop staring off the bridge into the camera or turbulent waters, get on the job with the full role of leadership!!!

    Mayor Joe, you do not care for my advice which is why you have never sought it out officially, a fact I have not shared with readers before today. But a fact nevertheless. However you have had a lot of education with at least eight years of primary, four years of secondary, four years of college, three years of law school, and then again, courtesy of the courts and the public, seven more years to learn from public mistakes. All in all, that is a lot of schooling, and most of it was off camera. So put the vision thing to work and commit your administration to plan your work, and work the plan with the BOE and taxpayers to raise results by and reasons for hope for the youth of the City. Do you care to do this so trust can be formed? Do you care to show your work so it can be verified? Time will tell.

    1. John,
      I’ve been reading your posts for a long time and it’s rare you come out with such “fire in the belly.” I could sense your blood pressure rising with each new sentence. Bravo!! Bravo!! Encore!! Now give your heart a rest, take a few days off and have a merry enjoyable Christmas!

    1. Perhaps what we need is the “port” coming back where people with ideas, talents, and energy are welcomed to the work that is to be done. Time will tell.

  3. What has been left out is the health and safety of the residents and the businesses on the other side of the bridge. There is always a delay with all the fire vehicles located at Fire Headquarters on Congress Street. Also it was a piss-poor decision to build a firehouse in that location, because first the drawbridge, then the electrical wires and the train viaducts. Firefighters who were stationed at Fire Headquarters before the Congress Street bridge got stuck in the open position in 1997, like Andy Fardy, can tell us the problems they had with that bridge while the bridge was going up and down to let boats cross over.

  4. In order to move forward and not be stuck in the past the best thing to do is fix the bridge. Since there isn’t any major boat traffic a fixed bridge is the way to go. Nothing to break down and fix over and over and no wires to worry about. Get out the extra roll of red tape for this one.

    From what I read in the paper, Ganim is hoping there is some federal money coming from Trump through infrastructure projects for the temporary jobs this will create. The you have to check with the state and federal officials to declare that portion of the Pequonnock non-navigable, then there is the Army Corps of Engineers, DEEP and the Port Authority. Throw in Congressman Himes. The bridge has been out since 1997. It’s been too long as it is. With all these hands in the soup it’s going to be longer and at this rate very expensive.

    Ask Manfort what one side of the overpass cost to build. What was the cost to install it?

    Measure the opening of Congress Street to see if it’s close to the Lindley Street overpass dimensions. If it’s under you have an idea what that costs. You will not need all the cops they had so that will save a ton of your overhead.

    Labor, material, two cranes and the bridge section(s) how much, anyone out there might know? Seems simple enough but that’s me.

  5. Perhaps keep the approaches and install a pedestrian and bike-only bridge with a one-lane access for emergency vehicles. There are a lot of people without cars on the East Side who need to access Downtown.
    A pedestrian/bike bridge would be a lot less expensive and promote bike traffic as an alternative means of commute. We also don’t need to make Noble Avenue into a speedway again. “The Knuckle” on the River could be a pleasant, walkable community of restaurants and artist lofts and shops. Fishing and kayak access would be great for riverfront development.

  6. Jim Fox–You are clueless and ill-informed on so many levels.

    The day Joe Ganim became the Mayor of Bridgeport, he became my Mayor. It is what people do unless you are a nasty, vindictive, obsessive-compulsive, negative individual who enjoys draining others with their negativity.

    There is not one thinking individual wgo doesn’t know I was a staunch Finch supporter. Four years earlier I supported Foster. Not because I disliked Finch but because I thought she could speed up Economic development. Four years later, Finch had put in place nearly everything I had hoped for, I never thought Foster should have run simply because she didn’t have a chance and I personally felt Ganim had 10 years, the city was moving forward and DUH!!! I will support Mayor Ganim. It is sad you and a few more who worked your asses off for him were so naive on so many levels and now you are his worst nightmare and I am not playing into your game.

    The city is broke and needed to raise taxes. DUH!

    You can attack Ganim but you have no right to make comments like kiss-ass to me. I am not on the receiving end of any special treatment. Joe Ganim never promised me anything. Joe Ganim terminated me from my position in 1991. I do not hold grudges. I see the bigger picture and I am hopeful Joe Ganim will be a great success! Jim Fox, if you want to see Joe fail after you supported him, have a field day. Not at my expense. Please target your frustration where it belongs. Turning this blog into a single voice of we hate Joe only serves your purpose and that of your number-one fan. It does not serve the city of Bridgeport and those of us who pay high taxes. If you don’t like Joe, MOVE! Don’t continually refer to me as a kiss-ass because I have a passion and love for the city and acknowledge JOE GANIM will be Mayor for three-plus years. Don’t you ever get tired of being Debbie Downer? Sometimes I appreciate your humor most times when you attack me for no reason it makes me wonder why I even contribute to this blog. Seriously Jim, once in a while you can criticize me for a comment, but you cannot constantly call me a sycophant. There is a definition to that word. It is generally someone who fawns over another for self-serving benefits. I have none.

  7. On March 25, 2004, an oil tanker crashed and burned on a span of highway bridge between exits 24 and 25 on I-95 in Bridgeport, with the ensuing, intense, massive fuel-oil fire melting and destroying the bridge structure, necessitating its replacement.

    In the panicked hours following the crash, Mayor Fabrizi received a call from ACROW, a New Jersey-based infrastructure engineering/construction company, offering to erect a functional replacement of the bridge span in less than one week for less than $2,000,000. The panicked city, state, and federal officials met with ACROW shortly after the call, commissioned the replacement operation, and had the promised results, on time, for what had been feared would take months and cost $tens of millions.

    The example this situation should have provided at that time, is, in terms of vital infrastructure, something cheap and serviceable is infinitely better than nothing. It would seem ACROW and the Army Corps of Engineers, the latter of which erects long spans of bridges in the course of hours, in the heat of battle, capable of supporting the weight of large numbers of extremely heavy tanks and other battle equipment, together could come up with cheap, serviceable replacements for all of Bridgeport’s missing and non-functional bridges in a matter of weeks or months at a cost that could be accommodated by the federal government. It seems $2 million-plus was provided by the federal government, several years ago, to “study” the replacement of the Congress Street Bridge. ACROW replaced the I-95 span for about the same price, without the need for a protracted, expensive study.

    Bridgeport needs serviceable bridge replacements, not architectural masterpieces. ACROW and the Army Corps have plenty of extant, adaptable plans for any and all of the bridges we need, including drawbridges. We don’t need to &^%$ around for another two decades of expensive studies for prohibitively expensive bridge replacements. We need functional bridges that serve our commercial and public-safety transportation needs and that can accommodate any appropriate economic redevelopment plan involving Bridgeport’s harbor and shipping channels. That’s not a very tall order for ACROW and the Army Corps if we think serviceable and practical.

    The City should huddle with the federal and state government, along with ACROW and the Army Corps, and come up with a coordinated plan to restore Bridgeport’s bridges/harbor/shipping channels to accommodate any and all water and land transportation needs related to Bridgeport’s reindustrialization and return to manufacturing-center status (per the opportunity under the entering federal administration to recreate our manufacturing sector). If we meet these Bridgeport redevelopment needs, all other bridge/waterfront needs that might be part of Bridgeport’s other economic/transit activities will also be met.

    Putting the “bridge” back in Bridgeport should not be a big deal, and if done in the context of utility and practicality, should be fundable and able to be implemented in short order by bundling federal transportation, commerce, and public-safety grants applicable to our needs in those areas.

    Is anybody in Hartford or DC paying attention?! President-elect Trump?!

  8. I agree with you, Jeff. If the city and everyone else in the red tape parade would follow the script Manafort took, that bridge could be up and running in a week.


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