Burton Road to be closed for ‘minimum a year’

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By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer

Beacon Falls officials weighing best way to move forward with repairs

A barrier blocks a section of Burton Road, shown Jan. 13, between Wolfe Avenue and North Main Street in Beacon Falls. The section of the road has been closed since Christmas Eve due to structural issues. –ANDREAS YILMA

BEACON FALLS — Officials are deliberating the best route to take to repair and reopen a section of Burton Road.

“We’re still in the searching stages to figure out the best steps to go forward,” said First Selectman Gerard Smith during the Board of Selectmen’s Jan. 11 meeting.

The town on Christmas Eve closed Burton Road to thru traffic from Wolfe Avenue to North Main Street due to structural issues. Residents of the Beacon Mill Village apartments still have access to a parking lot on the road.

The closed section of the road, which has a sidewalk on one side and a stone wall on the other, goes over a brook that runs behind the apartments. The culvert under the road and the foundation of the wall have been eroding for years, and the deterioration has gotten progressively worse. This has caused the road, wall and sidewalk to shift.

Officials have been keeping an eye on the deterioration over recent years. On Dec. 22, Milone & MacBroom, a firm that provides engineering services for the town, inspected the road and found the road has shifted to the point where there is concern it could fail.

Smith said officials are looking to repair the issues with the road all at once, rather than take a “Band Aid” approach that would likely cost six figures only to do a more costly, full repair later.

“We’ve elected to fix it once, but we’re trying our best to get as much grant or disaster relief funds that we can get,” Smith said.

Smith said he’s reached out to state and federal legislators about possible funding sources. He said he’s also working with the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments to see what assistance may be available, such as funding under the state’s Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program (LOTCIP).

Smith said he had not received any concrete information as of last week.

“Although I know it’s an inconvenience to the public, I think it’s prudent for us to try and explore all options of not spending any money that we don’t have to spend, if we don’t have to spend it yet,” Smith said.

Milone & MacBroom hasn’t done any design work yet for the repairs, as officials await possible grant funding, according to Smith.

Detour signs are set up at the intersection of Burton Road and North Main Street in Beacon Falls on Jan. 13. A section of Burton Road between Wolfe Avenue and North Main Street is closed due to structural issues. –ANDREAS YILMA

Selectman Christopher Bielik, who was first selectman from 2013 to 2019, said the town’s previous engineering firm, Nafis & Young, put together a proposal to fix the road a couple years ago when the deterioration became noticeable. At the time, he said, the proposal was presented to the Board of Finance. Officials felt then, he said, there were higher priorities for bonding money, and the road was not in the condition it is in now.

The work done by Nafis & Young has been given to Milone & MacBroom to review.

Officials aren’t going to wait long for possible state or federal funding before moving forward, but the road is expected to be closed for a significant amount of time.

“Burton Road is not going to open for a minimum a year and it might even be closed longer than that,” Smith told the Board of Finance during its Jan. 12 meeting.

Smith said he will wait about two weeks for information on potential funding sources. He said the town will then begin the process of applying for a LOTCIP grant.

“I’m going to engage Milone & MacBroom to start the preliminary design and LOTCIP application,” Smith said.

If the town receives a LOTCIP grant, it will have to bear all of the engineering costs, which Smith projects could be at least a few hundred thousand dollars for design plans.

The total project is estimated to cost up to $3 million, Smith told the finance board.

The town has an active LOTCIP application for work on Beacon Valley Road. NVCOG typically doesn’t allow municipalities to have two active applications at the same time, but will permit the town to have both simultaneously due to the emergency nature of the work needed for Burton Road, according to Smith.