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A bridge to last 100 years

Founded in the 1940s by Italian immigrant Joseph P. Carrara, Sr., the company appears to be as enduring as those old Roman bridges; it has expanded to become an honest, reliable, safety minded partner in several notable New England construction projects including the latest, upscale high-rise apartment tower project in New Haven, Conn.

I talked with Project Manager Mike Weigand, P.E., Cararra's young structural engineer. He is overseeing the three major beam segment tasks of the Cross Street Bridge project.

Weigand is an introspective man, a personality trait you definitely want in an engineer responsible for building structures that must safely bear the weight of automotive and human traffic.

"It takes a skilled team to build a bridge or a building," said Weigand. "Regarding the Cross Street project, Carrara is part of a team that includes VHB, Inc., a design and engineering firm based in Watertown, Mass.-with an office in North Ferrisburgh-and Corven Engineering, a bridge engineering firm based in of Tallahassee, Fla. We're an important part of the bridge's design team."

Weigand unrolled the blueprints of the new bridge atop a big conference table at the Carrara office in East Middlebury. He pointed to Egyptian-like scribbles on the prints that describe the engineering guts of the multi-million dollar construction project.

"There are a few standouts about this project," Weigand said. "For example, the bridge will be the longest span of its kind in North America." Of its kind means Carrara's use of giant precast/prestressed concrete beams known by engineers as New England bulb-tee beams. These regionally distinct beams are ideally suited to our crazy weather extremes and high atmospheric moisture. The beams include special hollow ducts that hold cabling that is used to help shape and ultimately support the downtown span.

"If you saw Carrara's big truck transporting the beams along Route 7 to the Otter Creek construction site by Mr. Ups Restaurant in downtown Middlebury last week, then you saw a lot of careful work with proven technology," he said.

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