NORWALK, Conn. – Pop the cork and have some bubbly with your Thursday dinner: If you drive in Norwalk you have reason to be thankful. Two long-term Norwalk road annoyances are expected to be gone by Thanksgiving.
East Rocks Road will open Wednesday, after being closed between Granite Drive and Ox Yoke Lane since March 2009, according to state Sen. Bob Duff. Weather permitting, work on West Avenue should be complete Tuesday, according to senior civil engineer Mike Yeosock.
"They should be paving the last course tomorrow and after that it's pretty much the signals they'll be cleaning up," Yeosock said of West Avenue, a road-widening project in the area of the Interstate 95 overpass and interchange.
East Rocks Road has been closed to allow a bridge over the Merritt Parkway to be substantially rebuilt. "The roadway will be open Wednesday, but the project's not going to be done until April," Duff said. The work was performed by the state Department of Transportation and was expected to be finished in August.
"In all fairness to DOT, this has been a difficult job," Duff said. The arch-shaped bridge was built in the 1940s along with the parkway, and Duff thinks it this is the first such bridge that DOT has reconstructed. The files were "not exactly accurate," as safety enhancements had been done over the years. "This is actually going to be kind of the test case for the rest of the arch bridges that they do when they get to them. DOT has learned a lot. So, it's not easy, it's a complicated project, a lot of things they didn't expect."
The Federal Highway Administration estimates 1,600 trips a day are made over the bridge. Duff said the Minnesota bridge collapse in 2007 heightened concerns about the East Rocks Road bridge, as the FHA considered the substructure satisfactory but the condition of the superstructure poor. "This was considered quite dangerous," Duff said.
It would have been easier to knock the bridge down and rebuild it. But in the interest of honoring the parkway's historic character, the arches have been maintained. The project cost $4.768 million.
The widening of West Avenue and the enhancements of the I-95/Route 7 entrance were inspired by the expected District 95/7 development. The project cost about $6 million and was paid for by the city and by Department of Economic and Community Development.
Work began on Crescent Street in August 2009 in Phase 1. West Avenue work began about a year ago. Of late, drivers have been suffering through an obstacle course of raised manhole covers and awkward lane closures and shifts. On Monday, Deering Construction crews put done the final layer of pavement on the northbound side of the road. Tuesday, the southbound side is on the schedule.
"It's almost done," Yeosock said. "One more big day."
Painting stripes on the road will happen at night, in about two weeks. Are there more road blocks coming? "I hope not," Yeosock said.