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IWC approves bridge replacement over Cobble Brook

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KENT—The Inland Wetlands Commission this week gave approval to a plan to build a bridge across Cobble Brook to replace a collapsing culvert.

The bridge is part of a right-of-way leading through Northwest Connecticut Land Conservancy property to Steven Abbate’s home. The NCLC had withdrawn its earlier permission to use some of its land as staging areas for the work.

Abbate and his contractor, Michael Gawel, submitted amended plans that confined construction to the right of way and the IWC delayed approval until its own engineer could look at the proposal.

Because the bridge is the only access to the home and is in imminent danger of collapse, the IWC members had agreed to hold a special meeting as soon as it had the report in hand.

IWC Chairman Lynn Werner said she needed to know the area of wetlands that would be affected by the work and Gawel said .037 acres would be in the regulated area. All the work will be confined to the right of way on either side of the span and the only time the stream will be disturbed is when the old pipe is removed.

Gawel said sedimentation controls will be in place before the pipe is pulled out at the very end of the project.

Werner referred to the riprap that under the bridge and asked if it is designed to allow vegetation to grow. “I didn’t think planting under the bridge would be part of it,” replied Gawel.

In response to a question from Werner, Gawel said he anticipates it will take four weeks to do the work, adding, “I can’t give you a start date until you give me a start date.”

Maria Grace, director of stewardship for the land conservancy, said all the work needs to be done within the right of way “and we cannot concede to any other way.” She wanted more details about work sequence.

Gawel said that each day’s work would be stabilized “to the best of our ability” at the end of the day. The work will be addressed in discrete stages with no area disturbed for more than a day or two. “We really do care,” he said.

Abbate, who asked that the right of way be flagged, underlined the urgency of getting the work done. “I expect it to collapse again with the next rainstorm,” he said.

Land Use Officer Tai Kern said the approval would be announced through a legal notice and that the public would have 15 days for comment before the approval becomes final. She said work could begin “at your own risk” during that comment period. Gawel said he would wait.

“It’s a special stream, but we respect urgency of getting this situation corrected,” concluded Werner.

Kathryn Boughton
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