Contractor prodded to finish Mystic project

Mystic -There appears to be an end in sight for the construction work in downtown Mystic.

Members of the Mystic Cooperative Task Group met Monday morning for updates on the state's Mystic drawbridge repair project and troubled streetscape project.

While most of the streetscape work is done, the town awaits installation of railings, trash receptacles and benches, along with some "punch list items," said project manager Rick Norris.

"We're really trying hard to get the contractor to finish up," Norris said.

The project, undertaken by Pettini Construction, was slated for completion in June 2012 but had hit delays, the most notable being removal of utility poles along the stretch of West Main Street. The project includes new expanded sidewalks, underground utilities, fresh pavement, granite curbing and lighting.

By contract, Pettini is subject to liquidated damages of $500 a day past the scheduled completion date.

Groton Director of Planning Michael Murphy said the town expects the contract to be closed out by May in time for the town to gear up for phase II. He said further delays could also have implications on federal stimulus money involved with the project.

"The work has continued well beyond what we expected," Murphy said. "The town's position has been consistent - we need the few remaining items done."

Work on the less disruptive phase two, which has not yet gone out to bid, is expected to start in the late summer. That project, on Water Street, is a smaller in scale and includes paving, curbing, additional parking and sidewalk work.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Transportation is expected to wrap up repairs to the Mystic drawbridge rehabilitation project by mid-April.

A 54-hour closure of the bridge, one of two expected before April 15, is slated to start March 6.

And despite some recent store closings in downtown, Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce President Tricia Walsh, said "all hope is not lost."

Walsh said with some recent and planned store closings there will be five vacant downtown storefronts formerly occupied by Studio Jeffery P'an, Catherine M, Webster Road, The Cooper Shoppe and Whyevernot. Walsh said most store owners did not directly blame the work, saying "each of the closings were for different reasons."

Walsh said she was eager to hold some type of ribbon-cutting in downtown when work is done, a moral booster for the businesses and locals alike.

A few other projects are coming in the interim. The Town of Stonington has announced plans to repave several roads on the east side of Mystic, including Cottrell and Holmes streets. That work will begin in March, sometime after St. Patrick's Day, according to Joe Bragaw, Stonington's director of public works.

Bragaw said the town would try and be sensitive and "nimble" about getting the work done with little impact on businesses.

Developers who proposed building a multi-story building at the site of a prominent West Main Street structure burned more than a decade ago have yet to announce a timeline for construction.


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