Main Street project pushed back a year

A renovated — and hopefully rejuvenated — Main Street is still seen as part of Ridgefield’s future. But it doesn’t look like it will be happening as soon as state and town officials had thought.
“Everything’s pushed back a year,” said Charles Robbins, a Planning and Zoning Commission member tapped by First Selectman Rudy Marconi to serve as a liaison to state Department of Transportation (DOT) officials working on the Main Street project.
The delay is prompted by the utility company Eversource pushing back its projected start date for underground work from this spring to the spring of 2020. That means the state’s work on the roads, intersections, sidewalks and plantings will be pushed back a year, as well. The state DOT’s work is expected to start as soon as there’s construction-friendly weather in the spring of 2021 — and to be completed that fall.
“The work by Eversource at the intersection of Prospect and Main, their work will not be able to be done this year, based on their schedule and availability, and will commence during 2020 — spring,” Robbins said. “They’ll be doing the vault, where the driveway is, and some of the cables and wires that extend into CVS and some of the properties.
“So in the year 2020,” he said, “... Eversource and utilities will be done with their work, probably in summer, late summer.
“What that means is when the state wants to come in — they won’t start in 2020, they won’t have enough time,” Robbins said. “So they’ll start in spring of 2021, the state DOT.”
The state’s goal will be to get done in the fall, before the weather gets cold — and the Christmas shopping season starts.
“The retailers aren’t going to accept interruptions,” he said.
Later in the fall the weather gets cold, asphalt plants shut down, and the construction season halts until the next spring. The DOT will need to be done before that happens in 2021.
“It has to get done in the calendar year, it has to get done in the building season,” Robbins said.
“So, the state DOT will start spring 2021. And they’re projected to be done by that fall.”
The cost estimates on the project have run in the $3 million to $5 million range.
“It does not cost Ridgefield anything, it’s all state and federal money,” Robbins said. “I think it was 80% federal and 20% state.”
Lobbying efforts
With some lobbying, Robbins said, there remains some chance Eversource could be convinced to start this spring, as originally planned — which would allow the state to do its work in 2020.
“We’re hoping,” Robbins said. “It’s not out of the question we could get them to start this year —they’re looking into it.”
Robbins didn’t think the year’s postponement of the plans would be upsetting to most of the Main Street businesses that have expressed concerns about various aspects of the project as it has gone through early planning stages.
“The shopkeepers certainly want to get it done and get it out of the way. But postponement — they’re not going to complain, because who wants disruption,” he said. “But it’ll be what it will be.”