$5 million road improvement plan will rest with Norwich voters in November

Norwich — The City Council will ask voters at a Nov. 5 referendum whether they support bonding $5 million to continue the city’s aggressive schedule of road repaving and drainage improvements, bridge repairs and other infrastructure work.

The City Council voted 6-0 late Monday to forward the question to a referendum that will coincide with the municipal election Nov. 5. Voters supported similar $5 million road and bridge work bonds in 2006, 2009, 2013 and 2017.

Alderwoman Joanne Philbrick angrily objected to the bond proposal at the start of Monday’s meeting, but abruptly left the meeting prior to the vote. Philbrick objected to a report provided by city Comptroller Josh Pothier that estimated the debt service will cost the average taxpayer $20 per year.

"When is it going to stop?" Philbrick said. "When are you going to stop digging into the pockets of the taxpayers of the city of Norwich."

Public Works Director Patrick McLaughlin gave a presentation to the City Council Aug. 5 on how his department would use the bond money and the status of projects under the 2017 bond.

By the end of this construction season, the city will have nearly $3 million remaining in the 2017 bond, but he cautioned that money will be used up fast. The city reconstructs six to eight miles of roadway per year at a cost of $350,000 per mile. The city has 162 miles of roadway and has a goal of repaving roads on a 20-year cycle, McLaughlin said.

Also pending is the planned $10 million replacement of the Sherman Street double bridge over the Yantic River and former mill canal. The city’s share of the mostly state-funded project is 10 percent, or $1 million.

McLaughlin said there are other minor bridges, culverts, guiderails and crumbled sidewalks that need to be addressed. In emergency sidewalk repairs, the city would seek reimbursement from property owners, he said.

Using the combined $3 million remaining from the 2017 bond and the newly requested $5 million, McLaughlin outlined proposed road reconstruction projects in various sections of the city. His plan is posted on the city website, www.norwichct.org. He said the schedule is subject to change based on pending utility work by Norwich Public Utilities.

If the bond is approved, the proposed schedule calls for paving six miles of roads in 2020 in East Great Plain, Laurel Hill, Thamesville and the central city areas, with most of the work in East Great Plain and Laurel Hill. In 2021, the city would pave 7.3 miles, nearly three miles in Thamesville, two miles on the West Side and one mile in Greeneville.

In the third and final year of the proposed schedule, 6.6 miles of roadway would be repaved in 2022, including 2.45 miles in Norwichtown, 1.1 miles in Yantic and nearly a mile in Taftville and Plain Hill Road areas.

Other proposed work includes the $1 million reserved for the Sherman Street bridge project, $500,000 for minor bridges and culverts, $300,000 for sidewalks and $200,000 for guiderails. 

c.bessette@theday.com

 

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