NORWALK, Conn. — Complaints have been rolling in and everyone understands the frustration with some of Norwalk’s road conditions, Department of Public Works leaders said Tuesday.
Priorities are being reconsidered, Norwalk Chief of Operations and Public Works Anthony Robert Carr said, as the Common Council Public Works Committee moved $3.4 million in paving work forward.
About 20 roads will be done in the amendment to a contract approved last year, but not necessarily before the paving season ends, probably in November, Carr explained. The work would resume in the spring.
In a memo, DPW lists these roads for “potential” paving:
- Aiken Street
- Button Ball Trail
- Center Avenue
- Center Avenue Extension
- Delaware Avenue
- Fremont Place
- Harriet Street
- Hudson Street
- Jarvis Street
- Obrien Street
- Ohio Avenue
- Plymouth Avenue
- Rainbow Road
- Random Road
- Van Tassel Court
- Thames Street
- Richards Avenue
- Flax Hill Road
- Fillow Street
- West Rocks Road
“Obviously, there’s roads that we’re focused on, like Flax Hill,” Carr explained to the Committee. He elaborated:
- Flax Hill Road between Highland Avenue and the Five Mile River will be paved.
- West Rocks Road between Main Avenue and Bayne Street will be paved.
- Fillow Street between Fox Run and Hunter’s Lane will be paved.
On Wednesday, Carr clarified the plans.
“The portion of West Rocks Road between Main Avenue and Creeping Hemlock Drive (close to Bayne Street) is tentatively scheduled for pavement milling and resurfacing in Spring 2023. However, if the 2022 road paving program permits, DPW will potentially complete this work by the end of this construction season (i.e. prior to mid-December asphalt plant closures). The 2022 road paving program is dependent upon contractor scheduling, logistics and weather conditions,” Carr said in an email to NancyOnNorwalk.
The “bigger roads” are on the list because, “We know that it’s a hot topic,” Carr told the Council members Tuesday.
Council members have been getting questions about the roads and the conditions they are in, Carr said. “But there are reasons for that, like the utility work from SNEW (South Norwalk Electric and Water), from Eversource, private contractors on West Rocks Road.”
In April, Republican Town Committee member Bryan Meek said drivers might break an axle on Flax Hill Road. He called West Rocks Road “a $2 million job” and asked, “Why hasn’t that been done for the last 10 years when it needed to be?”
NancyOnNorwalk contacted Norwalk Principal Engineer Vanessa Valadares and asked about Flax Hill Road. In an email, she said:
“There are many projects going around in the area.
“Eversource Gas has just installed a new main gas line between Rampart Rd and Oak Hill Ave, including new services. The trench was restored on a temporary basis right before winter and now Eversource will come back to do a full-depth restoration. This is expected to happen in late Spring.
“We are working on upgrading sidewalks on Soundview Ave up to the intersection of Flax Hill Rd – including new ADA ramps.
“Also, we are considering further improvements at the intersection of Highland Ave and Flax Hill Road.
“The paving of the road will happen after all work is completed.”
She also said Soundview would be paved after the sidewalk work was done.
In March, City officials announced that all the sidewalks on West Rocks Road will be upgraded through a $1.4 million federal grant.
Carr on Tuesday said Eversource is “almost done,” having worked in Shorefront Park and “by a couple of schools,” and is “restoring a trench on West Rocks.” The First Taxing District Water Department is repaving West Rocks curb to curb on from St. Mary’s to Butternut Lane.
“So there’s a lot of work that’s outside of our control, that we’re not going to pave, if we know the utility company is required to do that restoration. So we understand that it’s been a hot topic,” Carr said.
The paved road status page on the City website hasn’t been updated since June 14 because “the contractor hasn’t really paved since then,” he said.
DPW is reworking schedules and “you’ll see lot of paving in the Soundview area in July, Iris Court and Rowayton area, there’ll be paving citywide,” Carr said. “At the end of the day,” the promised online progress map “100% will match what’s planned.”
The 5-year paving forecast hasn’t been updated because Valadares and her staff are “taking a fresh look at re-prioritizing some of the roads” in light of survey responses, consultant input, “driveability” and staff observations, Carr said.
There’s a technicality involved: the Public Works Committee voted to advance an amendment to an existing contract, not a new contract, for $3.4 million of work.
Valadares explained that over a year ago, the City changed its procedure to keep an existing paving contract in place, to be able to promptly use funds when a new fiscal year kicks in. Two amendments are allowed, Carr said.
“We can’t just keep adding money through amendments, because that’s not part of the public procurement process or how our guidelines work for Public Works, and specifically in paving contracts,” he said.
This would be the second amendment on the April 2021 contract with The Grasso Companies.
Carr said there’s also contract language allowing extensions.
“We’re not sure if we’re going to do the second year, the second extension for Grasso Companies, that’s going to be a department decision in consultation with my staff,” Carr said. “But we have done the first extension, and this is for the Second Amendment.”
Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Smyth (D-At Large) said there have been many complaints about road conditions but “it is it is very challenging. You have all of these projects going on and you can’t do the repaving until they’re done.”
“The staff does a great job and we pave anywhere from seven to 12 centerline miles a year,” Carr said. White Plains, N.Y., with 60,000 residents to Norwalk’s 90,000, is “maybe doing two to three centerline miles a year” and Stamford “is not doing anywhere near” what Norwalk is doing.
He said, “I have never seen a Public Works Department push out as much paving as this department and I’ve worked with several others.”