Bridge Committee meetings, 2nd Wednesday of each month, 6:15 pm, @ NM Town Hall.
The Boardman Bridge was closed to vehicular traffic after completion of a replacement bridge to the south in 1984. The town spent some $363,000 the following year on renovations to permit pedestrian sightseeing, but since that time the ornamental latticework and floral designs above the portals have rusted and the deck has become unsafe even for foot traffic.
Boardman Bridge was one of the first Berlin bridges to be listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The arched shape of its truss is from a design originating in Europe early in the 19th century. It is one of about 1,000 bridges of this type built by Berlin before 1900, but one of only three bridges of this style remaining in Connecticut.
At it's June 26th meeting The New Milford Town Council voted to establish a committee to determine how to rehabilitate the Old Boardman Bridge so pedestrians can use it again, as well as connect the parking to the Sega Meadow Trail.
In 1840, a wooden toll bridge was erected at the site of the currant Boardman Bridge. It was swept away in the flood of 1854 and rebuilt in 1887-1888 by the Berlin Iron Bridge Co. of East Berlin, CT.
At 188 feet in length, Boardman Bridge is the longest of only three lenticular through trusses remaining in Connecticut, and was one of the first Berlin bridges to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. At 188 feet in length, Boardman Bridge is the longest of only three lenticular through trusses remaining in Connecticut (as of August 2001), and was one of the first Berlin bridges to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Its inclusion in the Register means a permanent maintenance and preservation as part of our nation’s history. Lenticular describes the arched shape of the truss. Lenticular truss design originated in Europe in the early 19th century, and the Berlin Bridge Company was granted two patents in the United States, in 1878 and 1885. They built over 1000 bridges of this type before 1900. The style was very popular during the 1800’s, and many of them are still in service today. Boardman is one of two lenticular bridges spanning the Housatonic in New Milford. Lover’s Leap Bridge is the other, and is now a Connecticut State Park.
Today the Boardman Bridge sits rusting and near penniless. Horses, buggies, cars and people used to flow over the bridge just as the river flows below. Now fences stop even a pedestrian from taking a step onto the historic bridge. Maybe a squirrel ventures across its span. Vines and tattered electrical wires and lights are highlighted only by the rust and peeling paint. One important step has been accomplished toward the bridges restoration. The engineering inspection of the bridge has determined what improvements are required to re-open the bridge to pedestrian traffic as well as the estimated cost of the project. Town dollars alone cannot restore the bridge. Federal and State grants are a necessity as are donations from concerned citizens A fund has been set up at New Milford Town Hall 10 Main Street, which is tax deductible, for the express purpose of restoring the Boardman Bridge
The bridge will never be the viable connection it once was in a transportation sense, but it can be the gateway to a scenic park system and part of a walking/biking trail connecting Canada to the Long Island Sound. It will be one of the scenic stops in the town that is the “Gateway to Litchfield County”.