The Frog Bridge replaces an older bridge 900 feet to the east that carried Windham Road (SR 601) from Route 32 across to Route 66. That bridge, built in 1857, is now closed to traffic. It will be converted to pedestrian use, as part of the Heritage State Park at Windham Mills.
In the mid-19th century several cotton mills along the Willimantic River were producing high-quality thread; and the suburbs on the south side needed better access to the borough on the north side. Plans were drawn up in 1872 for a new highway bridge, but none was built. A footbridge built in 1906 served as a compromise for a road bridge defeated in 1904.
In 1986, then-state legislator John Lescoe (now First Selectman) introduced a bill to fund a feasibility study for a new bridge over the Willimantic River. After a late 1980s recession, the funding was approved in 1991. DOT engineers presented a design for the bridge, which residents disparaged as bland. They called for something with more character, a la the famous Merritt Parkway bridges.
After pressure from historians and residents, the state relented and added an architect to the bridge budget, which is not usually done. And the spools of thread decorating the ends of the bridge eventually supported 11-foot frogs.
The bridge's end points are Pleasant Street (Route 32) at South Street, and Main Street (Route 66) at Jackson Street. (There was once a proposal to reroute Route 195 along Jackson Street, so the Frog Bridge might have become the final few hundred feet of Route 195.) Work began March 1999, and the new bridge opened in early September 2000. The entire project finished in fall 2001.
Video made 122008
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Frog Bridge Willimantic CT