MERIDEN — An excavator clawed through the former Bradley Eatery Thursday and Friday to make way for rebuilding the Sodom Brook Bridge on West Main Street.
The former diner and a small red building at 367 W. Main St. were recently razed to allow the state Department of Transportation to begin the $6 million project to replace the 88-year-old bridge. Those properties will be landscaped after the work is completed, said DOT spokesman Judd Everhart.
The Bradley Eatery was owned by Mark Hartman, of North Carolina, who sold the 70-year-old building to the state for $103,000. The property at 367 W. Main St. was sold for $38,500. Allison Romano ran the diner from 2008 until it closed in May 2017. She could not be reached for comment Friday.
The state had determined there are weaknesses and holes in the bridge that make it “ structurally deficient.” Plans call for a temporary bridge to be installed while the main bridge is replaced. Construction will likely cause traffic delays and detours along West Main Street for more than a year.
The city has done some prep work to replace a water main that will run on a separate utility bridge along the main structure, said Utilities Director Dennis Waz.
Cisco LLC of New Haven is doing the demolition work and another contractor and subcontractor will rebuild the bridge and do the utility work.
”It is a state structure but our water main is part of the bridge,” Waz said. "This is a state project, so I'm kind of at their mercy as far as when we start."
More than $164,000 was spent on acquiring six surrounding properties through eminent domain, Everhart said.
Construction on the bridge is expected to begin in July and conclude in May 2020, Everhart said in March, lasting "a little over two construction seasons."
"There will be some traffic issues over there," Waz said.
Luis Gonzalez, owner of the King Kutz next door to the former Bradley Diner, said the demolition has been disruptive to business but he was surprised at how quickly workers finished.
“All the stuff was parked in front,” Gonzalez said. “Once (the reconstruction job is) said and done, it should be two years.”