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Alvord promises Rowayton work will be done by end of the year

NORWALK, Conn. – Work on Rowayton Avenue at the railroad station will be done by the end of the year, Department of Public Works Director Hal Alvord said. The disruptive action of lowering the roadway will be done over two weekends to minimize the impact on commuters, he said.

The last three or four weeks have been spent getting work done that was supposed to be completed before Norwalk began its part of the years-long project done in conjunction with the state.

The $2.8 million contract for the reconstruction of Rowayton Avenue in the area of the Metro-North bridge was approved by the Common Council in January, despite an effort to stop it.

The project will lower the hill north of the railroad station by 3 feet to improve the sight lines for drivers. The road north of the bridge will be narrowed from 32 feet to 28 feet. The road south of the bridge will be widened from 26 feet just south of Caroline Court to 28 feet, to make the stretch uniform.

The road alterations are following recommendations worked out between Norwalk’s Department of Public Works and the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT). The federal government is paying for 80 percent of the work and the state is paying for 20 percent. The state agreed to widen the bridge on the condition that the city modify the road in the manner described above.

The bridge was rebuilt using thicker steel to support a wider expanse, resulting in less clearance underneath. Lowering the road under the bridge will increase the height clearance from its current 11 feet to 12 feet, 4 inches. It had been 12 feet before the bridge was rebuilt.

Alvord said a tractor-trailer needs 13 feet, so lowering the roadway will not open Rowayton up to tractor trailers.

Asked for an update on the project by Councilman John Igneri (D-District E) last week, Alvord talked about the utilities that go under the bridge.

“The cable, phone, electrical and water all go underneath the bridge,” Alvord said. “Water you would expect to go under the bridge. The cable, telephone and electrical were on poles they came down past Arnold Lane, to the north side of the driveway. Then they go down risers underground to go under the bridge because you can’t have wires over the catenary system.

A trench on the eastern side of the Rowayton Avenue at the railroad station.

A trench on the eastern side of the Rowayton Avenue at the railroad station.

“When the state did the bridge they were all supposed to lower their utilities so that it wouldn’t have to be done again when we did the roadway,” Alvord said. “They didn’t do that and the state didn’t check them. So what happened is they went down and they hit rock and stopped. So when we started working we found out they didn’t have them low enough. So what’s taken the last three or four weeks is getting them to come in and do it right.”

Now that the utilities are in work is being done on drainage, he said.

Igneri asked if the trench on the eastern side of the road was for lowering the utilities. Alvord said it was. A row of arborvitaes, an evergreen shrub, would be put in along the property immediately to the north of the bridge, he said. DPW will meet with Sixth Taxing District commissioners next week to discuss final landscaping in the area, and residents have been consulted about what they want on their properties, he said.

It’ll be done by the end of the year, he said, except that maybe some of the planting would have to be done next spring.

Also in Rowayton:

• The Sammis Street pump station project is on schedule and is expected to be done by the end of the year, Alvord said.

• The $1 million reconstruction of the Westmere Avenue Bridge will also be done by the end of the year, maybe around Thanksgiving, Alvord said.

13 comments

Nora October 11, 2014 at 9:15 am

This project is a mess. It is dangerous and it was supposed to be complete by September then November and now the end of the year. Hal always has some reason why projects have to be done but never done on time. This also appears to be wider and lower than originally discussed. Hal – don’t worry we will all be out there measuring to ensure you are not going beyond the boundaries that were approved.

Scott October 11, 2014 at 9:15 am

Thank you Mr. Alvord for clarifying the bridge height. I was not aware that height had previously been lost. If this fact and the new height had been more widely reported it would assuaged a lot of fears of truck traffic.

Lisa Thomson October 11, 2014 at 10:31 am

Sadly, DPW took a country road and is lowering and walling it off so that it will resemble something akin to the Great Wall of China. Bridge strikes in SoNo and other more frequently travelled rail underpasses in the area (e.g. Route 1 in Darien) but this is how the state with Norwalk DPW choose to spend $2M tax dollars, despite local protests? Criminal, angering and depressing all rolled into one emotion.

Oldtimer October 11, 2014 at 10:34 am

“Alvord said a tractor-trailer needs 13 feet so lowering the roadway will not open Rowayton up to tractor trailers. ” More accurately, SOME tractor trailers need 13 ft, many need less, so lowering the roadway will only open Rowayton up to SOME tractor trailers, not all. Max height in CT is 13 ft. 6 in. without special oversize load permits.

Scott October 11, 2014 at 11:46 am

As the holder of a commercial driver’s license I can assure you that if bridge height is even close to questionable I avoid it. The only truck traffic you should see are local drivers who are already familiar with the road

John Hamlin October 11, 2014 at 2:42 pm

This project seems a lot like the addition of the traffic lights installed at Fort Point Street and Van Zant Street — expensive but no real enhancement for the taxpayers and residents of the city. The traffic lights at Van Zant and Fort Point actually do nothing for safety and make the intersection harder to get through — we should be looking to eliminate traffic lights where they don’t do any good (and limit the duration of red lights) so they don’t inconvenience motorists. What advantage does this project provide? Was the bridge faulty? It doesn’t appear that this is a particularly tough roadway. Apart from the fact that Norwalk got a chance to spend federal dollars, now that the project is done, what do the residents think of the end result? Worth doing?

Seth October 11, 2014 at 3:17 pm

@Nora Your anti-Hal rants are pretty predictable (just waiting for Mr Mushak to offer his .50cents). Why aren’t you clamoring about Scribner ave as well? Or when Cedar st was turned upside down?

@Scott DPW? You seem to have a vendetta against Hal as well.

Scott October 11, 2014 at 4:37 pm

No vendetta I just read between the lines and have watched him operate since day one. If you find anything I post to be implausible or if you have a logical answer to my questions I welcome the healthy debate. And my post for this article was actually praise. I don’t hate the man. I just don’t like some of the things I see happening to my city – the place I’m from. I’d rather be wrong about him but I definitely have questions.

Nancy Chapman October 11, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Just to clarify, the information about the height of the bridge and the promised width of the roadway when the project is finished came from the stories I wrote in January and February. Alvord didn’t mention the specifics at the DPW meeting.
Here is one story: http://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2014/02/dpw-director-defends-rowayton-project-promises-bike-lane/
And this one refers to the history of the project:
http://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2014/01/norwalk-council-sends-rowayton-boondoggle-forward/
Here are all of the stories I did on this: http://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/tag/rowayton-avenue-bridge/
I have now put the links in the story above.

Nora King October 11, 2014 at 8:44 pm

@Scott. Scribner is a mess as well. Sorry ….I don’t think Hal is a good employee for the city of Norwalk. That is my opinion and I am just being honest and direct. That may not be politically correct. He is a smart and very manipulative person. He may have good credentials but he does not care about our city nor the taxpayers here. He should go an run the DPW for Danbury and we need to find someone that is much more engaged with the people who live in our city.

WOW just WOW October 12, 2014 at 12:45 am

Actually Nora I see Hal as one of the better managers in Norwalk that actually cares how our tax dollars are spent. Before he took over DPW the running joke in Norwalk was “What is green and sleeps 3……The answer a Norwalk DPW truck”. Hal holds his people accountable and it seems union employees are not used to that. I say we should clone Hal and have a manger like him running every city department.

Scott October 12, 2014 at 9:09 am

We never ride three to a truck anymore because one of the best things Hal has done is to purchase good new equipment. This was partially due to necessity of age and partially to allow us to better perform. I’ve never questioned the job that Hal does immediately visible in front of you but like a chess match there are moves being calculated many turns in advance. As a resident and home owner I would like to avoid check mate and stay in the game.
As far as your opinion of the job that DPW workers do I doubt you would complain in the middle of the night when we plow the snow from your road so you can get to work or an ambulance or fire vehicle can reach your house. Or if a tree comes down in the road we’re there to remove it. Or if a hurricane devastates OUR town we’re there to clean it up. Or if there’s shoreline flooding and you can’t be evacuated because the water level is too high for regular emergency vehicles we drive the equipment we use to get you out. I could keep going but I think you get the point. Unfortunately EVERY job has a few employees that will never make employee of the month. Don’t judge the group by a single example.

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