ACEC Connecticut Recognizes Davis Avenue Bridge Replacement Project

Awards, Projects | January 23, 2024


aerial view of the Davis Avenue vehicular and pedestrian bridges

GREENWICH, CT— The American Council of Engineering Companies of Connecticut (ACEC-CT) has awarded the Davis Avenue Bridge Replacement Project with the 2024 Engineering Excellence Merit Award. Recognized for its successful restoration and improvements to vehicular and pedestrian access to the area—the project also maintained established historic aesthetics and the Town of Greenwich’s link to the past.

Situated in popular Bruce Park, the Davis Avenue bridge carries vehicular and pedestrian traffic and utilities over Indian Harbor. The existing bridge, originally constructed in 1934, was in a deteriorated state with large voids in the stone masonry pier and concrete deterioration in the superstructure. Recognizing the need to replace the bridge and its associated infrastructure, as well as improve pedestrian access, the Town of Greenwich enlisted Benesch to provide design and construction inspection services for the replacement. 

During the preliminary design, the bridge was deemed too narrow and functionally obsolete. As widening of the dam and causeway to accommodate two sidewalks and the utilities would present significant environmental challenges, the decision was made to relocate the utilities and one sidewalk to a standalone pedestrian bridge. This decision not only provided a safe location for the utilities’ relocation, out of public view, but also improved pedestrian connectivity across Davis Mill Pond.

Traffic assessments alongside the town early in the design process also helped to establish a detour route that allowed the contractor greater site access to expedite construction.

“Relocating the utilities from the existing structure to the new pedestrian bridge prior to the start of construction was key as it allowed the contractor full access to the construction site. This decision expedited the entire construction process allowing the road to be reopened on schedule in time for the start of the year,” explained Benesch’s Steve Drechsler, PE.

Aesthetics and contextual sensitivity were also extremely important on this project. Benesch designed the new vehicular bridge with a stone façade to match the bridge’s surroundings and painted the railings “Greenwich Green” to match the aesthetics of Bruce Park. Benesch also designed a fish ladder in compliance with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CTDEEP) that gives migrating fish a reliable route to swim upstream.

The widened roadway and shoulders provide for better accommodation for vehicles and bicycles. Additionally, the construction of the pedestrian bridge enhances safety and the walking experience by moving pedestrians away from vehicular traffic, along with providing a much wider walkway than pre-construction conditions.

“Removing the sidewalk on the north side of Davis Avenue really created opportunities for us to improve the geometry of the roadway at this critical crossing,” said Steve. “So not only was it great for the vehicular traffic along this emergency diversion route for Interstate 95, but it provided enhanced safety and protection for pedestrians—it’s a win-win, and it’s been well received by the community.”

The Benesch Team’s involvement in the preliminary engineering, design and construction phases of the project allowed for quick and direct communication between all team members, including the contractor, CTDEEP and the Town of Greenwich. This seamless collaboration led to the successful completion of the project within budget and on time for its opening at the beginning of the school year. 

Benesch was presented with the award during the ACEC-CT 2024 Engineering Excellence Awards Gala on January 22.