Residents in the area of the intersection of routes 63 and 67 are looking at a second winter with the busy crossroads under construction. Though the roadways are paved, an area in the middle of the intersection was left accessible, covered only with gravel, which washed out in the recent rains. Also, the orange warning cans curtail visibility in some areas, said David Schneider, who lives on a side road, and makes the turn onto Route 63 on a regular basis.
The state Department of Transportation, which is responsible for this project, is caught “between a rock a hard place,” according to its spokesman Kevin Nursick, on whether to secure the construction site for the winter or leave it accessible for work to go forward.
The project is to install a traffic light due to the high traffic volume at certain times of the day. In addition, the state was planning to lower the road in order to improve visibility. However, some of the residents in the area voiced strong opposition to the plans, and the state curtailed the project to adding turning lanes and a traffic light.
Even so, it now appears that some blasting will be necessary in order to finish drainage work and to build a retaining wall on the lower part of Route 63. At the urging of the town, the state agreed to pre-blast surveys of residents’ homes in an area of 1,000 feet from the site, as well as water quality and yield tests in a 300-foot radius.
“The remaining rock excavation is required to complete the project,” wrote Commissioner Redeker in a letter to residents. “The precautions and protective measures put in place for the blasting work meet or exceed best practices used elsewhere in Connecticut, and indeed across the country.”
Some of the homes in the area are historic and have very shallow wells, said Anne Boucher, who lives close to the intersection. Her well is only 30 feet deep. A meeting was held in August at the Town Hall with a representative from DOT. She said the argument was made that blasting, if done properly, may be less invasive than continuous drilling with a hoe-ram.
The state construction season runs officially from April 1 to November 30, but is dependent on weather conditions, Nursick said. As for this particular project, it seemed to stop and go as the state adjusted its plans and the contractor hit snags. The contractor, DeRita Construction, “has been having difficulty maintaining resources and getting sub-contractors to stay on schedule,” Nursick said.
No blasting dates have been announced so far.
By Bettina Thiel – Woodbridge Town News Correspondent