The town is making “excellent headway” on restoring washed-out roads following the flash floods that swept through South Norfolk in mid-July, according to First Selectman Matt Riiska. “But bridges are another thing,” he continued.
He said the state has hired a contractor to clear away the debris of the washed-out bridge on Route 272 but he has yet to hear what the DOT’s plans are for its replacement.
“Our local bridges will be a long haul,” he said, predicting that it will cost about $5 million to restore the washed-out crossings. “We have an engineer to compile the preliminary information so we can get funding for it,” he said. “We’re putting information together for FEMA but so far the State has not issued an emergency declaration.”
He believes that such a declaration is necessary to qualify for FEMA funding. The state has to have $6 million in losses statewide and Litchfield County would have to have at least $840,000. “There should be no problem in documenting the losses,” he said. “I know farmers in the Connecticut River Valley are really hurting and Norfolk will be in the $5 million range without considering Route 272, so we’ll easily be near $6 million. We’ll collect all the paperwork and see what happens.”
In the short term, the funds for repairs will be taken from capital reserves. “We need to replenish that for other things,” he said. “If the FEMA money is there and we deserve the money, we should get the money. We have the ear of [state Rep.] Maria Horn, [state Sen.] Lisa Seminara, [Sen.] Dick Blumenthal and the Governor, but we might have to play the sympathy card.”
He said the River Place bridge, which ran into an unexpected snag during a planned replacement last year, may be nearing the point where work can resume. While work was progressing, workers found that the north wall of the bridge was not on a solid footing and had to be replaced. “They had to re-engineer it,” Riiska said, “and the DOT was supposed to approve the plans by the end of July.”
On a happier note, he said the town has received its state reimbursement for work done last year on Mountain Road bridge.