Aquarion Water Company has begun the first stage of work associated with replacement of the retaining wall along Route 44 west of Norfolk. The company is testing the soil quality under the pavement as it prepares to move water lines prior to the extensive work the DOT will do to restore the wall.
Sewer lines and overhead wires will also have to be moved.
A state spokeswoman said Thursday that relocation of infrastructure could result in one-lane traffic while the work is underway.
Because of the relatively narrow passage along that section of road, with a steep hill on the north side and homes and businesses on the south, it is expected that subsequent phases of the project will be intensive and will take as many as five years to complete.
“Everyone is hoping for four years,” said First Selectman Matt Riiska, “but there is a lot of work to be done in that area. It’s going to be a very disruptive project.”
The state spokeswoman said that the mafia blocks that currently stabilize the bulging stone retaining wall behind them will be removed and the hillside will be trimmed back, slightly widening the road and making it safer. “But there is not a lot of room there,” she said, observing that there is a cemetery on top of the hill.
She said no contracts have been let yet and that the contractor that is selected will control the construction schedule.
Further complicating life in that section of town is the stalled work on River Place Bridge, which has been under construction since March 2022. The project hit a snag when it was discovered that the north headwall was not stable. The bridge has been redesigned but Riiska was informed last fall that it would take another year to complete the work.
“I’ve talked to them and asked them when they will get started on that,” he said. “It’s been going on forever.”
On a much happier note, he reported that the reconstruction of Maple Avenue steamed ahead through the winter months, making up for the months-long delay caused by remediation of the gas spill. He said he hopes the installation of the new drainage system will be complete by the end of the month.
“We might have to hold back a bit before we put in the sidewalks, depending on how wet the spring is,” he said. “If it is a dry spring, they will jump right in and form the sidewalks. Then they will have to remove the asphalt on the road, get the roadbed stabilized and put down the binder paving before doing the curbing. We hope to have things buttoned up by the end of May or in early June.”
He added that a benefit of working during the winter has been reduced disruption of traffic during the slower winter months and less dust getting into people’s homes.