Asbestos extends work on Route 42

A crew works to replace retaining walls on Route 42 in Beacon Falls on Wednesday. –LUKE MARSHALL

A crew works to replace retaining walls on Route 42 in Beacon Falls on Wednesday. –LUKE MARSHALL

BEACON FALLS — Work on the retaining wall along the northbound lane of Route 42 is expected to continue until August.

Supervising Engineer Matthew Cleary and Assistant District Engineer John Dunham of the state’s Department of Transportation gave an update on the work during Monday’s Board of Selectmen.

The project was started in July 2013 to replace the two existing metal walls. Cleary said the walls needed to be replaced because of large areas of rust and the soil behind the walls was spilling onto the shoulder of the road.

The wall will be replaced by a large concrete wall set to look like large concrete bricks. When finished it will be approximately two feet wide, 139 feet long and rise in height from eight feet to just over 10 feet.

The work was originally supposed to have wrapped up in November 2013. However, the crew ran into asbestos, which set the project completion date back to Aug. 18, 2014.

The discovery of asbestos also caused the project’s cost to increase $445,859. It was originally slated to cost $1.97 million. The state is paying for the repairs.

Cleary said the wall that is currently there is a bin wall, which consists of boxes made of metal walls that are coated on the inside with asbestos.

The asbestos posed a problem because the wall needs to be reinforced with rebar and to do so means drilling holes into it, Cleary said. The drilling, however, would cause the asbestos to become airborne.

Cleary said the crews had to cut holes in the outer wall, which took a while because of the asbestos remediation needed while cutting.

The contractor designed a lancing system that allowed workers to punch through the wall, into the dirt and rock, leaving the casings remained in place and without disturbing the asbestos, he said.

These casings will provide a path for the 30-foot rebar to be drilled into the earth behind the wall.

“So now we can completely avoid touching that metal with the drill,” Cleary said.

Selectman Peter Betkoski asked what would happen to the rotting metal wall currently along the road.

Cleary said the crews will install the concrete wall right up against the metal wall and let it continue to rot away.

Dunham said the wall is designed to encapsulate the previous wall and prevent the asbestos from getting out into the atmosphere.

The work will continue Monday through Friday between 6:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., during which Route 42 will be reduced from four lanes down to two.