NORWALK, Conn. – Rowayton can see the results of $2.8 million of work and months of inconvenience – the work on Rowayton Avenue is almost done, according to Norwalk Department of Public Works Director Hal Alvord.
While one man who lives next to the tracks called the work “beautiful,” three Rowayton residents on Sunday expressed a lack of enthusiasm.
“We have gotten a lot of compliments,” Alvord said.
“The most I hear is that it was a waste of taxpayer money,” Sixth Taxing District Commissioner Tammy Langalis said.
The project lowered the hill north of the railroad station and altered the road widths, making it 4 feet narrower north of the bridge and 2 feet wider south of the bridge, in a deal worked out between Norwalk’s Department of Public Works and the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT). The federal government paid for 80 percent of the work and the state paid for 20 percent. The state agreed to widen the bridge on the condition that the city modify the road in the manner described above.
That’s all according to information doled out nearly a year ago, when the $2.8 million contract was approved by the Common Council, despite an effort to stop it.
Nothing but good things would come out of the project, Alvord said in February. “When this project is complete, people are going to look at it and say, ‘Wow, that looks nice,’” he said.
Last week, he said everything was done but the cleanup work. The centerline was likely to be striped Sunday or Monday night, as were some parking lot lines, he said. The landscaping was in but it would take a year or two for the junipers to cover the ground on the hills north of the bridge, he said.
DPW worked with property owners in the area and was accommodating to some requests, removing trees that were considered hazardous and clearing out brush, in line with the budget, he said. “What we have gotten is a lot of thank-yous from people,” Alvord said, asserting that project manager Vanessa Valadares had gotten kudos.
One Rowayton resident described it last week in the manner predicted by Alvord.
“It looks beautiful,” said Joseph Pupello, who lives next to the railroad tracks on the southern side of the bridge. “They did a great job and the crew was great.”
One of three people who were in downtown Rowayton Sunday also used the word “great.”
“Hard to find $3 million there,” Frank Slater said. “They got a great wall structure. It looks good and everything. But we were supposed to see the road dropping. I can’t see a difference there. But that may be a layman. I’ve been down there and I can’t see it. … I wish they had taken the money for other projects in town.”
“I didn’t see much difference,” said a woman who declined to be identified. “It looks neater, that’s all I can say. I pull out of there every day from the train station. It doesn’t look any different.”
“I guess once they’ve got their minds set on something they’ve got to go through with it. Whether it was needed or not, I don’t know,” Dana Laird said.
What about DPW’s desire to improve the sightlines to make the road safer?
“If you improve visuals it improves the speed people go,” Laird said.
Langalis opposed the project.
“They like the improved sidewalks,” she said. “The stone wall on the corner of Belmont Place and Rowayton Avenue is so high that you cannot see over it when approaching the intersection from either direction, thus impairing visibility, rather than making it better as was the goal. All the stone walls are too high. It is miracle that there were no accidents or even fender benders during all the construction and we were able to keep the train station in full operation.”