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Amid project’s winter break, Monroe’s Route 25 drainage problems remain

February 7, 2019 GMT

MONROE — A project to help curb flooding on part of Route 25 in Monroe has paused for the winter, but recent runs of bad weather have made officials acutely aware of the need for the work to be completed.

Last April, the state Department of Transportation began a project that included the addition of several box culverts — structures that allow the flow of water under a road — as well as the raising of part of the roadway. The area targeted stretches about 1,200 feet, from 200 Main St. to 270 Main St., said Prashant Chandra, the DOT project engineer.

Chandra said that stretch of highway has historically been a problem for flooding. “I think it’s the way it’s constructed,” he said. “They made road very low, for some reason.”

The project will, on average, raise the road by about 3 feet. However, the effort is now in a winter shutdown, and not expected to start again until at least March. When the project stopped for the season, the roadway had only been partially raised, and the DOT had yet to install three new box culverts. It had replaced one box culvert near the Aquarion Water Company reservoir, about a quarter-mile north of the stretch of 25 that’s being targeted.

During this break, the state has been hit with some strong storms that, not surprisingly, caused flooding in the project area.

“There have been a couple of occasions were very heavy rains resulted in high river flow with water over the roadway, requiring temporary detours,” Monroe First Selectman Kenneth Kellogg said in an email. “This, coupled with the planned weekend detours for construction, have resulted in significant concerns from both residents and businesses in the area. It is a very frustrating situation for everyone, and I’m looking forward to the completion of this project.”

Specifically, there were two dates when weather conditions forced partial road closures, said Monroe Police Capt. Keith White. On Dec. 21, heavy rainfall caused a build-up of water on the roadway that required police to close it from about 9 a.m. until 10:15 a.m. the next day.

On Jan. 25, heavy rainfall again caused build-up of water on the highway, but this time, White said, temperatures fell, causing about a quarter-mile of road to be iced over. On that occasion, the road was partially closed from 1:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Thankfully, White said, no one was hurt, and he is aware of only one car getting stalled in standing water, during the December incident. However, officials said these closures are concerning, as that stretch of Route 25 is a busy area with many businesses, including Monroe Animal Hospital, 270 Main St., and Sippin Energy Products, 234 Main St.

“Obviously, this has been an issue that needs to be addressed,” said State Rep. J.P. Sredzinski, a Republican who represents Monroe and Newtown. “Route 25 is, if not the most heavily traveled roadway in town, then at least the second. It’s critical to keep it open.”

White said the problems are likely the result of a combination of a run of rough weather and still-poor drainage on the road.

“We’ve had so many storms in the past year,” he said. “It’s been a wet year. And there’s nowhere to put the water.”

There are actually two sites to the DOT’s project — one on the stretch of 25 itself, and one at the Aquarion reservoir, near the dam. DOT project manager Michael Rosenblatt said the DOT has been working with Aquarion, which is doing all it can to control water levels and keep the roadways from overflowing.

The construction is scheduled to be completed in August, and Rosenblatt said, as of now, it is proceeding on schedule. And Sredzinski, for one, is optimistic that the project will continue to stay on track. “I’m very encouraged that they’re going to get done when they say they’re going to,” he said.