Work on greenway goes into hibernation

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The General Pulaski footbridge spans over the Naugatuck River, connecting Union City to Bridge Street, near the Polish American Club. Phase one of the Naugatuck Pedestrian Greenway, which work has stopped on for the winter, will connect the borough's downtown to the footbridge. –RA ARCHIVE

NAUGATUCK — Work has stopped for the winter on the Naugatuck Pedestrian Greenway.

Workers from Guerrera Construction of Oxford, which is completing the first phase of the greenway planned to eventually run through the borough from Waterbury to Beacon Falls, packed up for the winter a few weeks ago, said James Stewart, director of public works.

“It’s going to be several months worth of work once we start again in the spring,” Stewart said.

Phase one, which will connect the borough’s downtown to the General Pulaski Footbridge in Union City, will be done once a new retaining wall is built under Route 8 and a 10-foot-wide asphalt walkway is built to connect the footbridge to Linden Park.

An entrance ramp to the highway will have to be closed and rebuilt after work begins again, Stewart said.

“That’s the bulk of the work right there,” Stewart said.

Construction should resume in the middle or end of March, he said.

The borough will likely hold a grand opening ceremony once the first phase is done in late spring or early summer, Stewart said.

The project hit a snag last fall when workers discovered the retaining wall holding up Route 8 near Linden Park was coated in asbestos. Since then, the borough has been working to get price quotes from the contractor and approvals from the state, Stewart said. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Department of Transportation have to approve plans for a new, wider retaining wall, which the pedestrian path will be built on top of, because the path will be shifted farther away from the Naugatuck River.

The state is expected to reimburse 80 to 100 percent of the new retaining wall’s costs, but Stewart said he did not know yet how much they would fund.

The Pulaski footbridge, which was closed in the fall as work progressed, has been sandblasted and repainted, although graffiti has already begun to appear.

Without the new retaining wall, the first phase was going to cost $2.2 million, with the borough chipping in $43,000 and the rest coming from state grants. A two-year-old estimate puts the cost of a greenway throughout the borough at $5 million, but officials have said that cost could be higher now.

The borough’s greenway is expected to connect to those of other municipalities to form a 44-mile riverside trail from Torrington to Derby.