First Selectman’s Corner, Oct. 27, 2011
By Matthew Knickerbocker, First Selectman
Road Update: Still the most popular question by visitors and callers to town hall. It’s election season, so there are a lot of opinions being offered as to whether or not the plan is on schedule, was it the right plan, was it a realistic plan, who’s fault it is that it’s not done yet, etc, etc, etc… So again, a brief update.
The first $2 million that was approved by the BOF and by voters last December definitely called for an aggressive, but realistic work schedule. It was designed to cover about six miles or so of heavy duty reconstruction with partial milling on some roads and extensive full depth reclamation on others. It also included new storm drain tops and in many cases, reconstruction of drain vaults and piping. The amount was not pulled out of thin air. It was carefully developed by our own highway supervisor with sharp attention to how much work could realistically be completed by our crews working in conjunction with milling and paving contractors.
Having said that, yes, the work is slightly behind schedule, and the culprit that has affected Bethel as well as every other town in Connecticut is the weather. It started out bad right from the first day of spring, when asphalt plants opened over a month late after that brutal winter (the one we’d all like to forget), and then got worse. Record snow melts and super heavy spring rains kept the ground too wet to start the drain work on time. Heavy rains continued on and off all summer, frequently cancelling contract work and pushing it to later dates. Tropical Storm Irene stopped the entire project in its tracks while our road crews performed cleanup operations for about two full weeks before getting back to the road work, plus the tree removal contractors we need for road widening were tied up even longer.
Despite all of this, our crews are still very close to completing all the work that was authorized for the first year. It’s possible that a few of the phase one roads will have to roll over to spring for completion, but if we get any break in the rains, they could still be done this fall.
And residents will be happy to know that as of right now, the project is running about $100,000 UNDER budget. The original cost estimates were correct, if not a bit conservative, and we should be able to do more with the first $2 million than originally expected.
As always, please call my office if you have questions at (203) 794-8501.
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