Opening of the Brown Schoolhouse Bridge at Parcel 5

Story and photos by Stephen Flanders, Norwich Trails volunteer
October 8, 2020

Completed bridge over Charles Brown Brook (Photo: N. Fabrikant)

The Norwich Trails Committee and the Norwich Trails volunteers are pleased to announce the opening of the bridge over the Charles Brown Brook, near Parcel 5 on Beaver Meadow Road, to reconnect the town’s trail networks on the north and south sides of the brook. It was designed to accommodate foot and bicycle travel and to accommodate mobility-challenged users and emergency responders.

100-foot gap left after remediation of the site

The bridge was designed by architect/engineer Nick Fabrikant, who provided the lowest-cost and most highly qualified bid among eight respondents to a solicitation for design-build proposals. The community can thank the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation, the Norwich Women’s Club and several generous citizens for their gifts to offset the cost of the project, which was approved by voters in March 2020. The Norwich Trails Committee and its volunteers also thank the voters of Norwich for authorizing this project in March by a vote of 1049 Yes to 465 No.

Fabrikant’s construction crew began in early August to prepare the stream banks for a concrete foundation. Starting with a 100-foot gap, two excavators shaped the banks and passed crushed stone across for emplacement on both sides to prepare the site for a 38-foot span. Next, forms were prepared for the footings and concrete poured. Then, forms were prepared for the abutments and concrete poured. Embankments were restored around the abutments and readied the site for erosion control. Fabrikant’s crew installed galvanized steel girders and sturdy pressure-treated wood decking to support architecturally designed railings. During a pause, a group of Norwich Trails volunteers emplaced erosion control measures on the altered portions of the site. The railings were installed in early October, completing the project ahead of time and under budget.

While the bridge is open to foot and bicycle traffic, the parking area on the Beaver Meadow Road end has yet to receive some added features to fulfill its purpose of accommodating people with mobility challenges and will remain closed to parking until they are installed.

A dedication ceremony will be announced at a later date, which accommodates rules for gatherings under COVID-19.

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