Road work raises concerns

Highland Avenue in Beacon Falls is undergoing a major reconstruction. –LUKE MARSHALL
Highland Avenue in Beacon Falls is undergoing a major reconstruction. –LUKE MARSHALL

BEACON FALLS — Work on Highland Avenue has left portions of the road torn up for the time being and some residents with questions and concerns.

A major reconstruction of the road, which runs in front of Laurel Ledge Elementary, started in July with the section of the road between Burton Road and Division Street. The work is being done by Cocchiola Paving, Inc. out of Oakville.

As the project progress, portions of the asphalt have been torn up, the median in front of Laurel Ledge has been taken out, and, much to the surprise of residents on the road, the sidewalks and portions of driveways opposite of the school have been removed.

“They went up and cut up everybody’s driveways without telling them. It was something we had discussed them doing last year, but I think it would have been nice to know ahead of time. It was something we weren’t aware they were going to do,” Town Engineer Jim Galligan said during the Board of Selectmen meeting Monday night.

Galligan said work on the sidewalks and driveways in front of the school property was scheduled to be complete by the end of this week. The work on residential sidewalks and driveways is scheduled to be completed by Aug. 19, and the first layer of pavement is supposed to be in place by Aug. 27.

The project was started on the portion of the road in front of Laurel Ledge with the intent of being done before school starts. The first day of school for Region 16, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, is Aug. 29.

“That is cutting it awful thin,” First Selectman Christopher Bielik said.

As the town seeks to have the road ready for the first day of school, residents raised concerns to the board.

Paul Brennan, who lives Highland Avenue, expressed concerns about the amount of dust the work is creating.

“They open up so much ground and it has been so dry that every time a car goes by all that dust is flying all over people’s houses,” Brennan said.

Galligan said he will have the company put calcium down, which will cut down on the amount of dust that is created.

Brennan was also concerned about being informed when the sidewalk and driveways were going to be installed in front of residential houses.

Galligan said in order to help residents keep informed he will ask that a flyer with information about what will be taking place be posted in a central location on the street or delivered to each home.

“This week you will be able to use your driveways. Next week we will find a spot for you to park across the street, even if it is that small parking lot in the school property,” Galligan said.

Board of Finance Chairman Joe Rodorigo asked what was happening with the telephone poles, which are slated to be replaced and moved back behind the new sidewalk. Currently the old poles are still standing and the new poles are lying in a pile at the corner of Highland Avenue and Burton Road.

Galligan said the markings for where the new poles will go were on the sidewalk that was removed. He said he remarked the locations for the poles and has been in touch with Eversource Energy, which will put the poles in when they can schedule the work.

The work on Highland Avenue is part of a $2.1 million road work bond the town approved last year.

In addition to Highland Avenue, the bond paid for work on Noe Place, which was finished earlier this year, and Burton Road, which is still under construction.

Galligan said the paving on Burton Road has been put on hold for now while O&G Industries, which is doing the work, is busy working elsewhere. The road is expected to have the final coat of asphalt put on by mid-September.

In exchange for the town’s patience, Galligan said, O&G will give the town up to a $25,000 credit for the asphalt. He said the offer was extended in part because the town has contracted with O&G for over a million dollars of paving in the last two years.

“They appreciate the fact that we are using them continuously,” Galligan said. “Also, they are taxpayers in town and they made it clear they want to work with the town and be a good resident in the town.”