NAUGATUCK — The first piece of the Naugatuck River Greenway in the borough might not be complete by Christmas as originally planned.
Part of the riverside path for pedestrians and cyclists, which should make up part of a 44-mile greenway from Torrington to Derby, was supposed to be built on top of a metal retaining wall leading down to the river in Union City, said James Stewart, director of public works. The state installed that wall more than 50 years ago when Route 8 opened, and workers recently cleared away poison ivy to discover it is rusting and contains asbestos, Stewart said.
The borough and the state want to replace it with a wider concrete wall, which would shift the greenway a few feet farther back from the river, Stewart said. Plans, therefore, will have to be reapproved by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Department of Transportation.
Stewart said he did not know how much the new concrete wall would cost.
“The state will pay 80 percent as a minimum, but we expect them to pay 100 percent,” he said.
Stewart said he expects the approvals within six weeks, after which borough officials and the contractor, Guerrera Construction of Oxford, will decide whether to begin a path connecting Linden Park to the General Pulaski footbridge before winter sets in.
If workers start on the path and weather prevents them from finishing, a ramp leading to Route 8 could be closed all winter, Stewart said. To prevent that from happening, the path might not be installed until the spring.
“It’s two weeks of work that requires ripping the on ramp apart,” Stewart said.
Phase one of the Naugatuck Pedestrian Greenway will connect the footbridge to the borough’s downtown. Its $2.2 million cost is mostly funded by the state, with the borough paying $43,000.
Construction began this summer and trees have been cleared along Linden Park, where a handicap-accessible fishing pier and a viewing area have been installed. Workers are now preparing to sandblast and paint the footbridge and are redoing the sidewalk leading to Maple Street downtown, Stewart said.
An existing path along the river in Linden Park already connects to a sidewalk along Route 8, so the connection to the footbridge should complete the first phase.
A greenway running through the borough from Waterbury to Beacon Falls is estimated to cost at least $5 million. Waterbury has contracted to build its greenway to the borough line, but the borough is still seeking funding to complete the connections north and south.