Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge (Connecticut)

The Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge, more commonly referred to as the Q Bridge by locals, is an extradosed bridge that carries Interstate 95 (Connecticut Turnpike) over the mouth of the Quinnipiac River in New Haven, in the U.S. state of Connecticut.[1] The original 1,300 m (0.8 mi) span – which opened on January 2, 1958 – was a girder and floorbeam design where steel beams support the concrete bridge deck. The bridge carried three lanes of traffic in each direction with no inside or outside shoulders. The bridge was officially dedicated as the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge in 1995 to commemorate the attack on Pearl Harbor.[2]

Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge
Q Bridge in New Haven Illuminated Red, White, and Blue (27460771747).jpg
The Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge, locally known as the Q Bridge, crosses over the Quinnipiac River.
CarriesTen lanes of I-95 / Conn. Turnpike
CrossesQuinnipiac River
LocaleNew Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
Maintained byConnecticut Department of Transportation
DesignExtradosed bridge
Total length1,443.2 metres (4,735 ft)
Width55.4 metres (182 ft)
Height45.7 metres (150 ft)
Longest span157.0 metres (515.1 ft)
Clearance below18.3 metres (60 ft)
Opened1958 (original span) reconstructed 2005-2015

The old Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge was replaced by a $554 million 10-lane extradosed bridge; the northbound span of which opened to traffic on June 22, 2012. Southbound traffic was shifted onto the new bridge, sharing the northbound span with northbound traffic until the new southbound span was completed in late 2015. Since the Gibbs Street Bridge in Portland, Oregon was redesigned from an extradosed span to a box girder bridge, the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge was the first extradosed bridge completed in the United States when it fully opened in September 2015.[3] The new bridge is the centerpiece of a $2 billion megaproject called the New Haven Harbor Crossing Improvement Program.


(Old) Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge
Q Bridge with the Tomlinson Lift Bridge behind it
Coordinates41°17′55″N 72°54′14″W / 41.29861°N 72.90389°W / 41.29861; -72.90389Coordinates: 41°17′55″N 72°54′14″W / 41.29861°N 72.90389°W / 41.29861; -72.90389
CarriesSix lanes of   I-95 / Conn. Turnpike
CrossesQuinnipiac River
LocaleNew Haven, Connecticut
Maintained byConnecticut Department of Transportation
DesignGirder and floorbeam
Total length1,443.2 metres (4,735 ft)
Width25.6 metres (84 ft)
Clearance below18.3 metres (60 ft)
OpenedJanuary 2, 1958 (Reconstructed 2005-2015)
ClosedJuly 26, 2013
(Old) Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge
Location in Connecticut

This bridge was created as part of a project to build the Connecticut Turnpike, a toll road stretching from Greenwich to Killingly in the 1950s. By 1993 the Quinnipiac River bridge was considered outdated, and traffic bottlenecks had been a chronic problem over the Q bridge.[4]

Signature span replacementEdit

Returning to the drawing boardEdit

In response to the controversy over the design of the new bridge, CONNDOT organized the Intermodal Concept Development Committee (ICDC), which included representatives from New Haven, East Haven, and Branford, environmental groups, local business associations, the FHWA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Coast Guard.

The ICDC examined over 100 alternatives before narrowing the list to seven in the Supplemental DEIS, presented in April 1997. The final EIS was issued in March 1999, which called for a 10-lane Q Bridge; eight lanes to East Haven and six lanes to Branford, and a new Metro-North/Shore Line East train station at State Street in New Haven. The FHWA issued a Record of Decision, approving the FEIS in August 1999.[5] CONNDOT is preparing two separate studies to reconstruct the remainder of the corridor through the Long Wharf section of New Haven and West Haven.

In 2001, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. pressed CONNDOT and the FHWA to design the new Q Bridge as a signature span. A cable-stayed design was originally considered, but the Federal Aviation Administration raised concerns over the height of the towers interfering with the approach into Tweed-New Haven Airport compelled CONNDOT to consider an extradosed bridge, which retains the aesthetic qualities of a cable-stayed structure, with shorter towers.

Construction on the eastern approach to the bridge in Branford and East Haven began in 2001; while work began in 2004 on the earthworks for the western approach around the I-91/Route 34 interchange. The United Illuminating Company erected new pylons and rerouted its 115 kilovolt transmission lines away from the bridge in 2003, to make way for the larger bridge to be built.

More construction delaysEdit

Construction on the bridge itself was originally set to begin in 2005 and be completed in 2012. However, two historically significant structures—the former Yale Boathouse and the Fitch Foundry—sat directly in the path of the new bridge. The City of New Haven demanded that these two structures be preserved.[6] Mayor DeStefano further argued that CONNDOT should include the expansion of I-95 through Long Wharf and West Haven into the overall plan instead of pursuing these projects separately. Given the impasse between CONNDOT and the City of New Haven over these two issues, the FHWA threatened to pull funding for the project unless the city and state could come to a consensus on how to proceed while keeping the project's costs under control.[7][8] Realizing that such a move would effectively void the already-approved EIS and require a new one to be developed, CONNDOT and the city of New Haven made a compromise in late 2005 that called for CONNDOT to provide $30 million in funding for a new Yale Boathouse on Long Wharf that would incorporate historical similarities (and actual structures) from the old boathouse. In exchange, the City of New Haven agreed to allow CONNDOT to continue the environmental and design studies on the Long Wharf and West Haven sections apart from the I-91/Route 34 to Branford segment of I-95 that includes the Q-Bridge.[9]

The project was let to bid in May 2006, but there were no bids received by the December 27, 2006 deadline. Two construction firms interested in the project cited—among other things—the absence of an escalator clause in the project contract to cover the rising cost of fuel and raw materials for the lack of bids.[10]

Staged constructionEdit

Construction of the new Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge (Q-Bridge) as viewed from the Tomlinson Bridge in 2011

In response, CONNDOT divided the bridge project into multiple contracts that were let in stages as construction progresses. While this makes the project more manageable for contractors and highway officials, this approach significantly added to the time required to complete the new bridge.

Removal of buildings and relocating sewer linesEdit

The first bridge contract, which includes the demolition of buildings where the new bridge will stand, was let in October 2006. Work under this contract was completed in August 2007 with the demolition of the Yale Boathouse and the Fitch Foundry where the west abutment of the new bridge will be.

A second contract was let on June 1, 2007, to relocate two 42-inch (1.06 meter) diameter sanitary sewer lines that lie directly beneath where part of the new bridge will be built. Construction of the new sewer lines involved slant drilling through bedrock under New Haven Harbor. The Middlesex Company, a construction contractor based in Littleton, Massachusetts, was the prime contractor on the $20 million project.[11]

Building the abutments and pier foundationsEdit

The third contract, known as Contract B1 in official documents, which covers construction of the bridge abutments and pier foundations for the northbound lanes was let on October 31, 2007. Four construction firms submitted bids for this $137 million contract February 6, 2008, according to bid results from CONNDOT.[12] The contract was awarded to a joint venture between the Middlesex Company and Pittsfield, Maine-based Cianbro Corporation in April 2008.

Completing the new bridge and removing the original spanEdit

The final contract, known as Contract B, will construct the remainder of the new bridge and demolish the existing span. Contract B was awarded to a joint venture between Walsh Construction of Chicago, Illinois and Denver, Colorado-based PCL Constructors for $417 million in July 2009. The joint venture company is also known as Walsh-PCL Joint Venture II. The two companies previously formed a joint venture to replace the Moses Wheeler Bridge over the Housatonic River several miles west in Stratford.

How the new bridge was builtEdit

The new Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge was built in three stages. The first half of the new bridge was built alongside and to the south of the existing bridge. This span now carries northbound lanes of I-95. On June 25, 2012, the new northbound bridge was opened, and carried three travel lanes in each direction while the old bridge was demolished and the remaining half of the new span was built.[13] Once the southbound span was complete, the southbound lanes were shifted to the second span. Currently each span carries three lanes in each direction, pending completion of construction of the I-91/Route 34 interchange immediately to the west. Adding to the challenge of building the new bridge is that work must be coordinated with the ongoing reconstruction of the massive I-91/Route 34 interchange just west of the bridge. As a result, completion of the project is now scheduled for 2016, four years later than originally planned, although this might change as the southern half was opened six months early.

Northbound spanEdit

The Northbound section of the bridge opened to three lanes of traffic on June 25, 2012, after being completed 6 months ahead of schedule.[14] On July 26, 2013, southbound traffic was shifted from the original bridge over to the new northbound span. The northbound span will carry three lanes of both northbound and southbound traffic while the original bridge is demolished, and the new southbound span is built.

Southbound spanEdit

On July 17, 2015, construction workers held a barbecue lunch on the southern span of the new bridge to celebrate its completion. Officials expect the new southern span to partially open, with an off-ramp to I-91 northbound in September 2015, and to fully open with complete access ramps by mid-2016.[15]


The bridge was named the Grand Prize winner of AASHTO's 2016 America's Transportation Awards, prevailing over 83 other entries from state DOTs nationwide.[16][17]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge Factsheet, Accessed March 10, 2010" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 23, 2011. Retrieved August 22, 2011.
  2. ^ "Connecticut General Assembly Public Act No. 95-325". Retrieved August 22, 2011.
  3. ^ "Welcome to the Gibbs Street Pedestrian Bridge Website!". Gibbs Street Bridge. Archived from the original on December 5, 2008. Retrieved December 8, 2008.
  4. ^ MILLER, JULIE (September 5, 1993). "State Seeks to Open a Bottleneck". The New York Times. New York, New York: The New York Times Company. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
  5. ^ I-95 New Haven Harbor Crossing Improvement Program History Archived August 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Future of Yale Boathouse, bridge development in question, WTNH TV Channel 8, November 15, 2004
  7. ^ New Haven trying to get agreement on Q-Bridge project, WTNH TV Channel 8, November 9, 2005
  8. ^ Feds may halt Q-bridge rehab Highway administration unhappy with cost overruns, New Haven Register, October 27, 2005
  9. ^ Q bridge meeting is productive, New Haven Register, November 10, 2005
  10. ^ Q-Bridge Construction, WTNH TV Channel 8, February 26, 2007
  11. ^ Department of Transportation. "CONNDOT Bids and RFPs". Retrieved August 22, 2011.
  12. ^ Department of Transportation (August 9, 2011). "CONNDOT Projects Scheduled for Advertising". Retrieved August 22, 2011.
  13. ^ Robbins, Rebecca D. (June 21, 2012). "New Haven Highway Traffic Could Come To Crawl This Weekend". The Hartford Courant. Hartford, Connecticut. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Transportation Projects in Connecticut and Florida Win Top National Awards". America's Transportation Awards. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  17. ^ "Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge Project Receives Grand Prize in 2016 America's Transportation Awards Competition". WSP|Parsons Brinckerhoff. Retrieved January 20, 2017.

External linksEdit