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Seen and Heard in Norwalk: Department of Public Works

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Seen in Norwalk: Dry Hill Road handicapped ramps with no sidewalk for a handicapped person to use. Go figure.

NORWALK, Conn. – Here are some items of interest that were seen or heard recently in Norwalk (all of them pertaining to the Norwalk Department of Public Works, oddly enough):

Classification confusion on Norwalk sidewalks

Engineer Dick Linnartz recently explained the reason DPW is looking for $500,000 in capital budget money for sidewalks is also the reason for some odd situations around town.

“In the 2013 calendar year we spent $715,000 on replacement sidewalks and ADA (American Disabilities Act) compliance handicapped ramps,” Linnartz told Planning Commission members. “What’s new is that when we would mill and overlay a road we weren’t required to make the sidewalks ADA compliant because that wasn’t called construction, that was called maintenance. They changed the rules of the game. Now, when you mill the road that’s called construction, therefore you have to bring the sidewalks into ADA compliance. So if you go up Dry Hill Road you’ll see handicapped ramps. There’s no new concrete sidewalks, but there’s nice new handicapped ramps. We have asphalt walks. But if you go over to Ferris, Loundsberry, Captain’s Street — we put in curbs and sidewalks, there’s dozens of handicapped ramps. So we spent roadway money complying with ADA. We’d like to get money for sidewalks that is separate and distinct from the road funds.”

Um, good thing they’ve got a crawl camera

New technology is good, according to DPW Director Hal Alvord, who has been frustrated in his efforts to get infrastructure mapping but has apparently made the best of the technology the department has been allowed to acquire.

Efforts are made with safety first in mind, he said, before launching into a story about a crawl camera:

“Because we’ve been able to use this crawl camera we found a void under Seaview Avenue a few years ago — 10-foot by 12-foot by 12-foot. We’re lucky that a school bus or a dump truck or something didn’t go along and just cave into that thing. It was 10 feet deep, 12 feet wide, 12 feet long.”

That was under the pavement, he said. He did not remember what year it was.

Parking experiments

This one’s already paid for – a SmartParking Technology pilot program will be implemented in the spring, Alvord said recently to the Public Works Committee.

That is “test sensors that go in the pavement that will tell people when the space is empty or occupied so that we can then put an app on a smart phone. For example, someone is coming into town, they want to go to the Black Bear Saloon. They can look at their iPhone and see where a space is going to be,” Alvord said. “We have pay by cell already. If you go to the South Norwalk railroad station from State Street, you can see which spaces are empty in the garage. So we’re starting to implement things.”

He said there are about 100 or so parking spaces that will be the subject of the experiment.

Seen from a Norwalk snow plow: New construction in Shorefront Park to replace a home destroyed by Superstorm Sandy. It used to be a ranch, plow driver Rich Sirois said.

Comments

5 responses to “Seen and Heard in Norwalk: Department of Public Works”

  1. Suzanne

    ADA compliance has been a reality for municipalities for twenty years (passed in 1990, it took some a few years to install the necessary ramps.) However the money is allocated, it should have been a reality here about the same time. This can hardly be an excuse for poor or no sidewalks. One has nothing to do with the other.

  2. spanner

    Why does Norwalk parking do side walk repair?They use LAZ whats up with that?

  3. Jlightfield

    Here’s a low tech sensor for policy makers: which is more important during a snow storm?
    .
    A) encourage people to not park on streets so that plows can clear to the curb and not pile up snow at the end of sidewalks and driveways.
    .
    B) encourage cars to not park in municipal surface lots so that the parking authority can plow the lots overnight.
    .
    You can guess which option is deemed a priority by DPW.
    .
    Meanwhile, DPW continues to use outdated sidewalk design guidelines. They continue to spec road resurfacing projects to the extant conditions instead of bringing the hodgepodge of asphalt curbs and sidewalks into modern, sustainable permeable pavement and granite. But I’m sure we are still compliant with horse buggies.

  4. Wondering..

    Reading the first part of this story reminded me of the calamity on Cedar Street. Which is still unfinished. Which then reminded me that we have crusaders like Warren Pena and David L Boogie Watts who would attack the city over something like this. Which then had me wondering: were there no Hispanics on that section of Dry Hill?

    .
    Where is Pena? Where is Wattage?

  5. Audrey Cozzartin

    Cars do seem to rule, and “Nor-walkers” don’t rate. The city as a whole (citizens like you and me) need to change our way of thinking from automobiles dominating to walkers, aka, “humans,” having more rights than cars. I have approached the city, schools, DPW, council members, and more, trying to discern footpaths (asphalt trails) from sidewalks to ascertain who is supposed to maintain these in order to make the walkways safe for school kids along Fillow Street and Hunters Lane, to no avail. It is a mind-set: Roads (cars) get priority and sidewalks (humans) are on their own. It is not just the city government that is in need of enlightenment: We all need this shift in thinking, and then both demand and as individuals (citizens) maintain our city on a fundamental, earth, level. Handicapped accessibility is a no-brainer for every modern city, and the fundamental freedom to walk is the way to go. Look at Europe! We are behind and need to not only catch up, but surpass! Let’s keep Norwalk “The Best City on Earth.”

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