Work to resume at last on the Post Road
Published 1:11 am, Friday, October 30, 2009
The Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) said that it would be adding more temporary stripes to the Post Road on Thursday and starting the final paving process this Sunday night, a week earlier than previously scheduled.
"We have a lot of paving projects right now and the contractors have been stretched pretty thin," said ConnDOT spokesman Kevin Nursick, explaining why no major work has been done on the stretch for nearly a month. "We`re trying to button up I-95 as we speak and then we`ll get back to Fairfield."
In early October, crews laid half an inch of pavement onto most of the two-miles of chewed-up floor, smoothing driving conditions, but leaving double-yellow and lane lines as mere flecks, and parking spaces, crosswalks and stop lines to the imagination.
Police said that no uptick in accidents has occurred, but that the complex navigating can lead to arguments, confusion, road rage and accidents.
Several pedestrians told the Citizen this week that the lack of markings has affected their driving and shopping habits, leaving them uncomfortable in crossing the street and anxious behind the steering wheel. Some expressed bewilderment at the project`s timing. One reader asked, "Did anyone ever explain why they were paving the same road in consecutive years?"
According to ConnDOT, the repaving project was planned "well ahead of time." It wasn`t affiliated with federal stimulus money and it isn`t related to work that was done between August 2006 and October 2008, when Northeast Utilities, not ConnDOT, ripped up the center of the road and buried a high-voltage power line from Milford to Norwalk.
"We`re paving to keep that roadway in prime condition is the bottom line," said Nursick. "We want to address a road before it has deteriorated so bad that it`s become a disaster to drive on, but at the same time maximize the lifespan of the existing pavement. It`s a balancing act."
Nursick said that the Post Road was last resurfaced about 10 to 12 years ago. Although no study was performed this year on the road`s actual condition, he said the decision to repave it was based on the expected lifespan of the previous asphalt, the general condition of the subsurface, the amount of traffic it regularly receives and the types of vehicles that drive on it.
"We do dozens and dozens and dozens of paving projects every construction season, and we understand and are familiar with how long asphalt is going to last," he said. "We plan our projects accordingly. We wouldn`t have repaved it if it didn`t need it, not in this economy."
According to ConnDOT data collected in 2008, which is available on the department`s Web site, the stretch undergoing work receives between 18,000 and 25,000 motor vehicles a day. The lower end of that range is for the portion near Southport; the higher end is for the portion near North Benson Road.
Both ConnDOT and Northern Utilities said that the asphalt that gets dug up during the milling process is recycled as much as possible.
Frank Poirot, a spokesman for Connecticut Light and Power, said the used pavement between August 2006 and October 2008 was shipped to a processing plant where it was re-blended, reprocessed and put back into the roads as fresh asphalt. The contracted firm responsible for doing so was Bond Brothers Inc., of Boston, he said.
Judd Everhart, a spokesman for ConnDOT, offered a similar answer.
"The `millings` are often recycled into another project where we might need silt or some other material that would be suitable," he said.
Once started, the repaving process should take eight work nights of work. Work nights run from Sunday through Thursday, weather permitting.
"Believe me," said Jeff Hanson, general supervisor from the ConnDOT`s Trumbull garage, who will oversee the repaving, "no one wants to get this done more than me."