Greenwich ‘Looks like a war zone’
GREENWICH — More construction work is slated to begin in Old Greenwich to improve drainage, likely creating more disruption and headaches for residents and merchants in the area.
The town Department of Public Works will begin installation of a drainage system within Sound Beach Avenue starting on or about July 9. The construction route will go between the Metro North Railroad Bridge to the Sound Beach Avenue Fire Station, which means it will go past where the majority of the local businesses are.
Work to install new storm drain pipes beneath the roadway is slated to take place between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and is expected to last six to eight weeks.
Materials and equipment will begin to arrive on June 25 and be kept in a fenced-in staging area.
“The main intent is to replace aging pipes and upgrade the drainage pipe network to handle larger flows in this area and reduce the likelihood of flooding,” said Town Deputy Commissioner of Public Works James Michel.
The work is part of the ongoing drainage improvements in Old Greenwich but this phase will be handled by a different contractor in an attempt to expedite the work.
The construction will mainly occupy the center of Sound Beach Avenue meaning northbound and southbound traffic will have to be shifted to the existing parking areas. Because of that change, parking on Sound Beach Avenue will be limited during the duration of the work and daily lane closures may occur.
The town will install temporary traffic control devices to protect motorists and pedestrians.
For local businesses in Old Greenwich, the project is another in a long series that has included ongoing work on the railroad bridge and other drainage improvements, including ongoing work on Park Avenue.
“This could end up being a disaster,” Richard Fulton, head of the Old Greenwich Merchants Association, said on Monday. “People are very concerned and we’re sort of battle-weary from all of this. There’s too many different projects with too many different entities and contractors for this to be coordinated.”
Fulton said he agrees the projects are necessary, but he wishes they were better coordinated to not put too much of a burden on Sound Beach Avenue.
“It’s long overdue and it’s going to look awesome when it’s done but Park Avenue looks like a war zone right now,” Fulton said.
The work comes during a busy season for the main business district of Old Greenwich. The Old Greenwich Sidewalk Sales are set for June 28 through June 30.
Additionally, the town’s fireworks displays are scheduled for July 7 with a rain date of July 8. The fireworks, as always, will take place at Binney Park and Greenwich Point, both of which are in Old Greenwich.
DPW officials have said there will be no work or material deliveries during those times.
Michel said July and August were picked for the work because school would be out and people are on vacation, creating lower traffic volume. In addition to the drainage work, Michel said the town would need to replace bridges on Sound Beach Avenue and Wesskum Wood Road in the next few years to avoid having to close those roads.
A proposal to replace the Sound Beach Avenue bridge and replace the traffic circle by Perrot Memorial Library with a more traditional roundabout was vehemently opposed by the public and did not get Planning and Zoning Commission support in May.
“Greenwich is over 375 years old and much of its infrastructure is aging and in need of upgrading, repair or replacement,” Michel said. “The town is actively trying to keep up with maintenance of this infrastructure but there is an inconvenience to this work. We appreciate the public’s patience during these projects.”
The town has warned that the construction schedule is dependent on the weather and other factors and unforeseen complications so the work, particularly with the road restoration, could go beyond the six-to-eight-week estimate.
Michel said the town had let residents know about the heavy construction schedule in 2012, before work on the Metro-North bridge began.
“At that time, the feedback received was that the neighborhood would prefer a five-year period of more intense construction, with two to five projects concurrently underway, rather than a 10-15-year duration with one project a year,” Michel said. “Therefore DPW proceeded with doing a significant number of sidewalk and curb replacements, the drainage projects, the Binney Park dredging, at the same time as the (railroad bridge) project. DPW hopes that by the end of the summer of 2019 the majority of the work in the commercial section will be completed.”
Fulton said he hoped the contractor would at least be able to coordinate with the MTA during its bridge work to make sure road closures don’t happen while the projects are conducted simultaneously.