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CT Construction Digest Wednesday June 24, 2020

Metro-North: Walk Bridge opening could cause train delays
Jim Shay
Metro-North said there could be some delays on the New Haven Line Tuesday morning if there are problems with closing the Walk Bridge.
“An opening of the Walk Bridge, in the vicinity of South Norwalk Station, is scheduled for 11:00 AM today. This opening could cause delays of 20-25 minutes,” the railroad said.
The 124-year-old bridge has had problems in the past with openings and closings.
Between 2018 and February 2019, there were 139 openings and 16 failures to properly close.
The bridge which carries the New Haven Line Railroad over the Norwalk River is a truss swing bridge with three fixed spans and one movable span. Total length is 565 feet.The total cost of the Walk Bridge project including design, rights of way, construction and program management is approximately $1.2 billion.

Stonington approves $10 million in sewer system repairs
Joe Wojtas           
Stonington — Board of Finance members on Tuesday unanimously approved a plan to bond $10 million to pay for what town officials say are critical repairs to the town’s three sewer plants and 17 pumping stations.
While taxpayers typically would have voted on the bond at referendum, that vote was replaced by a Board of Finance approval due to the COVID-19 pandemic. An executive order by Gov. Ned Lamont has allowed municipalities to make such decisions without town meeting or referendum votes.
The tax increase due to the bond for the owner of a median priced — $318,000 — home, will be $21 a year over the 20-year life of the bond, beginning with the 2021-22 budget.
Water Pollution Control Authority members have said the system is at a point where equipment is failing and more problems are expected. These would not only be costly but could result in the town violating its discharge permits and the state issuing fines and ordering the town to make repairs. Failures also could pose environmental threats to the Mystic River, Pawcatuck River and Stonington Harbor.
Before Tuesday’s vote, First Selectman Danielle Chesebrough said town officials did not make the costly decision lightly. She said the operation of the sewer system impacts the local economy, keeps the waterways clean and protects recreational activities such as fishing and shellfishing.
She pointed out that during a virtual public hearing on the bond earlier this month, 14 people or organizations submitted letters in favor of the bonding, while one letter came from a resident who suggested the town look at an alternative way to finance the work.
Before the vote, finance board member Mike Fauerbach said that while the town cannot afford to have its sewer infrastructure fail, the $10 million in repairs are not the long-term solution to addressing the town’s three old sewer treatment plants. In 2010, town residents approved an $18.3 million plan to upgrade the three plants.
“We need to spend the time and money on exploring the feasibility of consolidating our facilities (into a single plant),” he said.
The town has studied the issue in the past, and finance board member Lynn Young, who also serves on the Water Pollution Control Authority, said Tuesday that $700,000 is set to be allocated in the third year of the bond to create a facilities plan that would look at options for the future, such as a new plant.
In 2002, the WPCA recommended residents approve a $37 million plan to build a single plant, behind Stonington High School, to serve the entire town. In 2005, the WPCA withdrew the plan following opposition from residents.

Rubber Avenue construction project moving ahead despite delay
NAUGATUCK — The Rubber Avenue reconstruction project is moving ahead, though the start of construction has been pushed back to next year.
The project will reconstruct about two-thirds of a mile of Rubber Avenue from the intersection of Melbourne and Hoadley streets to Elm Street. The construction will include drainage improvements, and new sidewalks and landscaping along the road.
Improvements will also be made to a section of Aetna Street, said Lisa Slonus, a professional engineer with the firm Weston & Sampson, during a June 17 virtual informational meeting on the project.
Construction had been planned for the start of this year. Public Works Director James Stewart said state reviews were delayed and utility work had to be done before the work can start, pushing construction back. Officials are aiming to start work by next summer and hope to finish most of the construction in one season, he said.
As part of the project, the four-way intersection of Rubber Avenue and Meadow and Cherry streets will be replaced with a “modern roundabout.”
“This is not to be confused with a traffic circle or a big rotary with high speeds. In general, it creates safer speeds based on the geometry of the approach island and the roundabout itself,” Slonus said. “It forces people to slow down as they approach it. You’re eliminating many conflicts. When I say conflicts, I mean the potential for a crash between vehicle and vehicle, or vehicle and pedestrian.”The preliminary design calls for a one-lane roundabout that is 120 feet in diameter with a raised island in the center.
“We expect it’s going to improve the safety of both cars and the pedestrians as well as improve traffic flow,” said Stewart.
The Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments is coordinating the project. The construction cost is estimated at $4.8 million. The project is expected to be funded through the state Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program, with the borough paying about $250,000 for design costs.
Stewart said the borough’s share will be paid through its five-year capital bond.
The preliminary design work is finished, officials said. Work is underway on the final design phase, which includes looking at more detailed design and drainage, and landscape details. The final design phase is expected to be finished later this year, according to Slonus.
Officials are waiting for the state to commit the funds for the project.
Karen Svetz, regional transportation engineer with the NVCOG, said there will be funding for the work.
“We’re just going through the formalities to get the funds secured right now, and the (Department of Transportation) has been involved right from the get-go,” Svetz said. “There’s no question that the project will be funded.”
The DOT is involved with the review and the design, and is expected to complete an administrative review of the project this winter, officials said. After officials get the final approval from DOT, the borough will seek bids on the project.