NORWALK, Conn. — Sidewalk construction had begun along Highland Avenue.
The Norwalk taxpayer-funded work between Flax Hill Road and Charcoal Road will connect Brien McMahon High School, Brookside Elementary and Roton Middle School but will also benefit “every neighbor that lives on this street,” Director of Transportation, Mobility, and Parking James Travers said Wednesday during a ceremonial groundbreaking at BMHS.
Video by Harold F. Cobin at end of story
“This is a very, very important project,” Mayor Harry Rilling said. “These sidewalks will be ADA (American Disabilities Act) compliant, making sure that young people have a safe route to school and that’s the whole idea behind this. The road will be fixed as well.”
It’s about $800,000 of work funded through the capital budget process, meaning funded through issuing municipal bonds. A. Vitti Construction was awarded the contract to install about 4,100 feet of sidewalks, total, on both sides of the street.
“When we were campaigning, people constantly remarked about how was in need of work, how the sidewalks were in disrepair,” Common Council President Tom Livingston (D-District E) said. “And when you go down the road a little bit, you see that a similar project was done a few years ago, putting in new sidewalks for Rowayton (Elementary). This is the natural extension of that.”
When the sidewalks are done, the road will be paved and bike lanes will be striped in, said Director of Transportation, Mobility, and Parking James Travers.
“We’re also, in much of this project, going to be able to get a three-foot buffer in between the curb and where the sidewalk starts to just get the pedestrian a little further away from the street, making them feel more comfortable,” he said. “And as we expand those, they’re a great home for street trees.”
Concrete curbing will line the roads but the sidewalks will be asphalt, with concrete pads at the intersections for ADA compliance, Travers said.
As is the City’s policy, once the sidewalks are complete it will be the adjacent private property owners’ responsibility to maintain and repair them.
New sidewalks increase home values, Rilling said. “I think the neighbors here are all thrilled.”
Sidewalks connect people and create community, Travers said.
“We also have another really strong component and that is we want to age at home, many of us, right? And the number one way that we can age at home is to be active and the number one way that an elderly person can be active is walking, right? So we’re providing you a safe passage to make that happen,” Travers said.
It’s hoped that the work will be done before school reopens but, “even if we are not able to fully complete the project… we will have completed the critical component, right by the school,” Travers said.
“The quality of life in any community depends on the infrastructure, and walkability, the drivability, people being able to get around,” Rilling said. “One of the things I like about this program… there’s going to be a buffer, so that the children will be much more protected from the roadway than they are now. It’s a priority of my administration to fix up sidewalks, roads, do whatever we can to make our city safer so that people can feel comfortable, especially young people who go to school by foot.”