BEACON FALLS — After being closed for nearly 18 months, Cold Spring Road has officially been reopened.
Local and state officials attended a ribbon cutting ceremony on Nov. 13 to celebrate the road becoming accessible to the general public again.
The road, which is the only access road to High Rock State Park in the Naugatuck State Forest in Beacon Falls, was originally closed in May 2012 by the Department of Transportation for repairs that were being done on the Metro-North Railroad. The railroad runs adjacent to the road, coming within a few feet of the road at times.
After the work had been completed the DOT determined the road to be unsafe and decided to keep it closed.
Town officials and local legislators lobbied to reopen the road. Their fight came to an end in September when the DOT announced the road will be reopened after some safety improvements were made, including adding about 3,000 feet of fencing as well as signage cautioning pedestrians about the active railroad.
Former First Selectman Gerard Smith said during last week’s ceremony the road had been opened through the work of both officials and local residents.
“A lot of the residents came through. From doing their own title searches down at Town Hall, they came up with an old deed from the 1800s that was hand written. It was really a group effort,” Smith said.
DOT Commissioner James Redeker thanked everyone who helped find a way to reopen the road and keep people safe at the same time.
“It was an interesting challenge to have the safety problem and yet a resource like this that was unavailable to the public because we closed it,” Redeker said. “This is a day, for me, that is a lot of fun. Sometimes you have to get out of the office and enjoy the outdoors but also celebrate the work of good people who just rose to a challenge.”
First Selectman Christopher Bielik, who was a selectman when the road was closed, said reopening the road will have a positive impact on the economic development of the town.
Bielik said he was pleased officials were able to find a middle ground between reopening the road and public safety.
“Keeping those things in balance and finding a way to get to the ultimate solution, this is a win for everybody that’s going to be using this,” Bielik said.
Naugatuck Mayor Robert Mezzo, who arrived at the ceremony by coming down the newly opened Cold Spring Road through the state park, called that area the most beautiful part of the state.
“I can think of no better drive that I have than going through Route 8 and seeing the valley between the beautiful river here,” Mezzo said.
Sam Gold, executive director of the Council of Governments of the Central Naugatuck Valley, said the road’s reopening will have a large impact on the future use of the area.
“I’d like to introduce you to the future route of the Naugatuck River Greenway. This is an important connection between Naugatuck and Beacon Falls, and for the future greenway that will connect all the communities along the Naugatuck River. We’ve been working hard with all the communities and this is the gem of the whole route,” Gold said.
Gold called the park the most scenic section of the entire 44 mile route of the planned greenway.