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The added investment Newtown taxpayers are making underwriting local road projects is already paying off according to Public Works Director Fred Hurley. In an August 17 update to the Legislative Council on the request of Councilman George Ferguson, Mr Hurley described an optimal summer providing mostly fair weather, which hastened completion on many of the 41 projects slated for the current work season.
Mr Hurley said that at least another dozen projects of those 41 were poised to begin in the coming weeks. And on October 1, his staff will meet and decide, based on weather predictions, how many additional projects might be started and completed.
He presented a matrix of projects that Mr Hurley said the public works department tries to update weekly, noting so many are beginning, occurring, or wrapping up with numerous contractors and town crews coordinating work, that the document might already be slightly out of date.
“It’s hard to keep this current because [the projects] are very much moving targets,” he told the council. “What we have to do is choreograph these projects internally to be ready for contractors to come in — and then we have to choreograph the contractors themselves because some do drainage work, some do paving, some do landscaping, and so on.”
Crediting his entire staff, Mr Hurley said that with weather cooperating, the public works crews have done a “brilliant job keeping these all on schedule.”
“The vendors have come in and have been able to do their part of the work, so the next vendors are able to come in on time,” he said. “Right now we’re in very good shape.”
Besides the work represented on his scheduling matrix, Mr Hurley said his department had completed a 3,000-foot gas line project for Middle Gate School, and two major bridge projects on Toddy Hill and Walnut Tree Hill Roads.
“Frankly, in the last 28 years, this has probably been the best beginning and continuance of road work we’ve ever had. Things have just really gone well,” he added.
Councilman Dan Wiedemann asked about planned work on Route 34, and Mr Hurley confirmed that after a gas line installation near the intersection of Oakview Road, some patching will suffice. He did mention that the state will be milling and paving at night between Oakview and Pearl Streets in the coming weeks.
On a question about the extent of the work from Mr Ferguson, Mr Hurley estimated that between seven and eight miles of town roads were or will be upgraded before the end of 2016.
Councilman Ryan Knapp asked for clarification on the Toddy Hill bridge replacement. Mr Hurley replied saying that most of the new bridge construction would be happening adjacent to the current bridge, so minimal closures would have to occur once the new finished structure is ready to shift into place.
“There should be continuance of traffic while that new bridge is being done, and the crossover to the new bridge will occur at night so there is minimal interruption of traffic,” Mr Hurley said.
Council Vice Chair Paul Lundquist asked about the Pond Brook/Obtuse Road work that was ongoing. Mr Hurley said that heavy fill and stones had to be installed to stabilize slopes in the area so crews could put guide rails in, and that his crews are planning to repave parts of the paved road that were ripped up.
Another 600-foot section off Hanover Road will also see guide rail installations. Mr Hurley also pointed out that large stones and fill that had been conserved by his crews on previous jobs were employed on this project, measurably minimizing materials costs.
The resurfacing of what he described as one of the town’s “orphan” bridges on Ethan Allen Road near the town landfill was slated for work that was ongoing at press time. Mr Hurley confirmed that work on Mt Nebo Road is slated to begin this season, and be completed next year.
Mr Hurley also assured the council that in terms of quality control, the Highway Department bids out and supplies material to vendors who are working on various projects, and a third-party inspector is employed to ensure the integrity of asphalt and surfacing materials. He also reviewed how crew chiefs tour various parts of town twice each year to help the department prioritize projects that should be done sooner rather than later.
According to Mr Hurley’s document, 2016 road improvements are already complete on Cadey Lane, Cannon Drive, Glover Avenue, Johnny Appleseed, Morgan Drive, Newberry Road, Birch Hill Road, Bonnie Brae, Brassie Road, Brushy Hill Road, and Pheasant Ridge. Additional projects on Mile Hill South, Riverside Road, Whippoorwill Hill, and Schoolhouse Hill Road are also near of just wrapping up.
More than half of the 41 projects presented involve paving, drainage, curbing, and landscaping work.