NORWALK, Conn. Chase Holman, 10, had free entertainment while he was visiting his grandmother Wednesday: A monstrously large A&J Construction truck was ripping up Union Avenue, turning it into a fine rubble, spreading out the mess and producing steady noise.
"This is pretty cool because I've never seen this before and to me it's new," Chase said. "I like it."
"He won't even come out of the rain," said Wardelle Holman, his grandmother.
Residents have been wondering when the neighborhood would get paved. Wednesday, the truck arrived right on schedule city engineer Drew Berndlmaier had predicted that would be the day. But it's been a long time coming.
"Twenty-five years we've waited for this road, [and] we've finally got it," said Barbara Hubbard, next door neighbor to the Holman family. "I hope they have it done by Monday."
The road was being reclaimed Wednesday. Although many Norwalk streets are getting a new surface layer of pavement put over the old asphalt, streets in the historic neighborhood near Tracey Elementary School are being taken down to the dirt, then rebuilt.
Holman, 74, said she has lived there her whole life. Her grandparents owned the house, then her mother. She wanted the road paved. "I called up the city many, many times," she said. "They had the money last year, but they had gas lines to do and everything, and then they couldn't do because it got too late and the asphalt plant closed and it was getting cold. So then they said, 'Well, we're going to do it this year.' "
Hal Alvord, director of the Department of Public Works, has said that waiting for utility companies is a common reason road paving is delayed. He specified that the Union Avenue-Eclipse Avenue-Camp Street-Ward Street area was being done in a sequence.
Camp Street came first because of the school. Retiree Bill Forcier lives on Camp Street and has as much time to watch as young Chase does, and he was equally impressed.
"Twelve inches they took out of this," he said. "But it's beautiful, it's really beautiful. If it rains, it really looks nice. You can see the crown of the road sticking right up in the air." He watched during a recent rain storm as the water drained. "That's something it never did," he said, adding that a big puddle used to form. "The drains they did a super job here, I really can't say anything bad about it. I think they did a fantastic job."
Even so, he was perturbed last week because the crosswalk hadn't been painted in yet. Crossing guard Frank Rubino was concerned as well, as people were meandering all over as they crossed.
Berndlmaier said two weeks was a typical time to wait for road painting. "Usually they want to get a bunch of roads done so that they all can be [painted] at the same time," he said. "It's hard to get a pavement marking contractor to come out and just do one street at a time."
What's left in the city's extensive paving project ? Berndlmaier said that left to be done are Strawberry Avenue between Fitch and Interstate 95, a piece of Glover Avenue between "the old Route 7 and the railroad crossing," and Highland Avenue between Witch Lane and the railroad tracks.
Union Avenue should be graded Thursday. Weather permitting, paving of the base course should take place Friday.
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