Wilton’s Frye’s Measure Mill bridge rebuilt

WILTON – It took a little over a week, but the bridge beside Frye’s Measure Mill in Wilton has been transformed from a wooden bridge dating to the last century into a new, wider, modern steel-reinforced cement bridge.

On April 21, a crew from M.A. Bean Associates, of Sanbornton, arrived with many large excavating machines and by the end of the morning, the old bridge was gone.

During that week, the crew built a wooden footbridge for customers of the mill’s gift shop, widened and heightened the old stone abutments, and worked on the access ramps.

On April 28, another crew arrived with a large crane and four cement panels, each weighing about 44,000 pounds. The temporary bridge was removed and by mid-morning the new bridge deck was in place. Each of the four deck panels was lifted by the crane, swung around over the brook and positioned.

This week, the new guard rails will be installed and the road level raised and graded to meet the slightly higher new bridge deck.

The bridge was one of four in Wilton that was “red-listed,” declared unsafe and in need of replacement, by the state several years ago, and the second to be replaced. It was on the state list for replacement in 2020 at a cost of several hundred thousand dollars, of which the state would cover 80 percent. Public Works Director Steve Elliott told voters at Town Meeting in March the bridge would not last that long, and fire trucks could not cross the bridge to reach the two houses on the further side.

Voters approved taking $80,000 from a capital reserve fund and authorized Elliott to have the bridge replaced.

Contractor Michael Bean said his company specializes in the replacement of such red-listed bridges throughout New England using the original abutments and steel-reinforced pre-cast deck planks. Most bridges, he said, are replaced within a week where state projects can take months and close roads.

The abutments of the Frye’s Mill bridge date to the mid-1800s when the mill was converted to wooden ware by Daniel Cragin in 1837. Over the years, the town has periodically replaced the deck, most recently about 30 years ago by then Road Agent Charlie McGettigan.