State closes road in forest to cars

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ForestNAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck State Forest is now a little less accessible.

The road running through the forest, known as both Black Forest Road and Spruce Brook Road, has been closed off to vehicular traffic after the High Rock Shooting Range.

The road has been marked as closed for the past couple of years, but the gate had been left open on numerous occasions, explained Department of Energy and Environmental Protection State Forester Chris Martin.

Martin said the closure is due to two reasons.

The first reason is the road ties into Cold Spring Road in Beacon Falls, which was closed by the Department of Transportation in May 2012.

The road was supposed to be reopened in late 2012, but the DOT felt that it did not meet the current safety standards as it runs next to a railroad line. Because of those safety concerns Cold Spring Road is closed to pedestrians as well as vehicles.

“We are working with DOT to find a solution, or at least identify what success looks like, for that lower portion along the river,” Martin said.

After the access to the forest from Cold Spring Road was closed, Beacon Falls officials reached out to the DOT in hopes of getting it reopened.

Beacon Falls First Selectman Gerard Smith said there has not been any recent movement on reopening the road.  

The town had previously looked into a deed from the 1800s that officials felt would have determined whether the road was town property or state owned. However, Smith said it would have cost thousands of dollars to trace the deed and there was no guarantee that it would help reopen the road. 

“It didn’t make any sense to spend that kind of money on something that may not even open the road,” Smith said.

Martin said the other reason the road was closed off in Naugatuck is because of its condition, which Martin called “deplorable.”

Martin said there are large potholes which can damage vehicles driving on the road.

“It’s stable now but it’s in poor repair,” Martin said.

Martin added the road leading to the shooting range off Hunters Mountain Road in Naugatuck will also be closed temporarily beginning July 22.

Martin said the closure should last between two and three weeks as O&G Industries repairs the road from the intersection with Hunters Mountain Road to the gate past the range. 

The road will still be open to pedestrian traffic while the work is going on, he said.

Once that work is done, the road beyond the shooting range will still be closed to vehicles.