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Building the Beehive Bridge


How tall the bees will be on the four exterior corners of the new beehive bridge was one of many questions designers from Fuss & O’Neill and public works employees discussed Tuesday during a Main Street Bridge joint meeting.

The group of about 10 are getting details for the new bridge together before it begins building in January of 2017.

“It’s not your every day project,” said Mark Moriarty, public works director. “It is much more complex.”

The purpose is to take the dreary Route 72 bridge and make it a fun and active visual area without appearing long and intimidating. Beehives and bees will adorn the City eyesore.

The group is looking at everything from adding new traffic signals to being sure ice does not form on the bridge.

Moriarty said they will also meet with members of the New Britain Museum of American Art.

“We want to engage them to see how they feel about the project,” he said.

So far no decisions are written in stone.

Preliminary designs show the road to be widened and planters will be placed in various areas of the bridge. Some will be nestled together to make it look bigger. At this time 21 planters are being discussed. The planters need to be big enough not to be able to be carried out by hand. They may be about 3 feet tall.

The four bees on the end corners of the bridge could be as high as 6 feet. The beehive in the middle could be bigger.

The group is looking at a polycarbonite panel that is flame retardant and difficult for graffiti. It creates shadows when light is cast on it and it not breakable by a bat.

The final beehive design, which will be chosen by Mayor Erin Stewart, has a variety of possible designs. It can have a bee on it, around it, in the middle of it or just have the hive.

The goal is to allow people to walk through it and not climb it. Discussions also involved the possibility of a clear bottom so people could look through the bridge in one or two areas towards the highway.

Lighting options are a big concern. Many options are being looked at including illuminating it from the top or the underside. Lights may be on the sidewalk or each rib on the design could have individual lights.

Many ideas were thrown around about the colors and ability of the lights.

The City is looking at having programmable lights. This would allow for the lights to change colors. One suggestion was that on a holiday, such as St. Patrick’s Day, the lights were all green and in October be pink for breast cancer awareness. The colors could change periodically each day, but not often enough to distract drivers. Light colors could also change around the beehive display if desired.

“When we were looking at the busway, we thought it was not aesthetically inviting and we needed to do something to make it more inviting,” said Mayor Erin Stewart. “We are looking to make the area more pedestrian friendly by narrowing the road and widening the walkway . But, we wanted to do façade work so it is inviting to walk by.”

The working group made the original design based on the comments during a public input meeting in October of 2014.

The City has received seed money for the project because it is around the CTFastrak and also two grants close to $3 million. More grants may also be available.

Fuss & O’Neil are the project managers who are leading the team for this project. The art & architecture is being done by Pirie Associates and Svigals Partners both from New Haven.

The goal is to have the project reflect the people who live in New Britain. It is the last part of the Streetscape Project.