Road reconstruction ready to begin

A telephone pole is in Highland Avenue in Beacon Falls. Major reconstruction of the road, which is off of Burton Road, is scheduled to begin this month. –FILE PHOTO
A telephone pole is in Highland Avenue in Beacon Falls. Major reconstruction of the road, which is off of Burton Road, is scheduled to begin this month. –FILE PHOTO

BEACON FALLS — Big changes are coming for one of the town’s busier roads.

The complete reconstruction of Highland Avenue is slated to begin later this month.

First Selectman Christopher Bielik did not have an exact date for the start of the road work, but said last week the Bridgeport-based Aquarian Water Company is expected to begin work on replacing waterlines along the street very soon.

“There are lines there that are cast iron and go back 100 years,” Bielik said.

Once the waterlines have been completed, the town is going to begin reconstructing the road, Bielik said. This work will begin after the final day of school on June 16, since Laurel Ledge Elementary School is on the road.

The reconstruction of the road includes moving telephone poles, which are currently in the street, behind the sidewalk in front of homes. New sidewalks and curbs will be built, and the road will be widened to have two 14-foot wide travel lanes.

Bielik said residents should be aware that this road is already very congested and the work will make it worse for a short time. There will likely be construction noise throughout the day, dust due to the work, and the road could be one way at times, he said.

“Ultimately the goal is to make it a little less congested,” Bielik said. “I ask people to be patient and understand that with infrastructure upgrades there will be inconveniences. We are looking to get best possible product for them in the shortest amount of time.”

Bielik said the work will start at Burton Road and head toward Division Street to ensure the road is completed in front of Laurel Ledge before next school year starts.

Bielik referred questions on the start date and further details of the project to Town Engineer Jim Galligan. A message left with Galligan seeking comment wasn’t returned.

Region 16 Superintendent of Schools Michael Yamin said students in the summer program at Laurel Ledge will be bused to Prospect Elementary School in Prospect. He said the town has been working with school officials and keeping them updated on the project.

“Hopefully, mutually, we can get through this as quickly as possible,” Yamin said.

The reconstruction of Highland Avenue also means some physical changes to the recently-renovated Laurel Ledge.

The traffic island in front of Laurel Ledge that separates the road from a student drop-off area will be removed. The parking spaces and sidewalk in front of Laurel Ledge will be pushed back about 5 feet closer to the school. Light poles at the school will be relocated, a large Maple tree in front of the school will be removed, and a new sidewalk will be built, according to the plans.

Removing the traffic island has been a cause for concern for school officials.

Earlier this year, Galligan told the Region 16 Board of Education, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, that a raised piece of asphalt will be installed in front of the school. The raised asphalt will be painted yellow to distinguish it from the road, he told the board.

Yamin said there has also been talks about putting a guard rail or some kind of buffer up once the road work is completed.

“I have no reason to believe that [the town] won’t work with us,” Yamin said.

The work will extend on Highland Avenue past Division Street to the cul-de-sac. Bielik expects this portion of the road to be completed by the end of October.

The work will be paid for through a $2.1 million road bond voters approved last July for work on Highland Avenue, Burton Road, and Noe Place, and money from a Small Town Economic Assistance Program grant.

Elio Gugliotti contributed to this article.