Rubber Avenue project in final design phase

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By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer

Construction expected to start next year

An artistic rendering of a proposed roundabout at the intersection of Rubber Avenue and Meadow and Cherry streets in Naugatuck. –CONTRIBUTED

NAUGATUCK — The Rubber Avenue reconstruction project is moving ahead, though the start of construction has been pushed back until next year.

The project will reconstruct about two-thirds of a mile of Rubber Avenue from the intersection of Melbourne and Hoadley streets to Elm Street. The project will include drainage improvements, and new sidewalks and landscaping along the road.

Improvements will also be made to a section of Aetna Street, said Lisa Slonus, a professional engineer with the firm Weston & Sampson, during a June 17 virtual informational meeting on the project.

As part of the project, the four-way intersection of Rubber Avenue and Meadow and Cherry streets will be replaced with a “modern roundabout.”

“This is not to be confused with a traffic circle or a big rotary with high speeds. In general, it creates safer speeds based on the geometry of the approach island and the roundabout itself,” Slonus said. “It forces people to slow down as they approach it. You’re eliminating many conflicts. When I say conflicts, I mean the potential for a crash between vehicle and vehicle, or vehicle and pedestrian.”

The preliminary design calls for a one-lane roundabout that is 120 feet in diameter with a raised island in the center.

“We expect it’s going to improve the safety of both cars and the pedestrians as well as improve traffic flow,” Public Works Director James Stewart said in a subsequent interview.

The Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments is coordinating the project. The construction cost is estimated at $4.8 million. The project is expected to be funded through the state Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program, with the borough paying about $250,000 for design costs.

Stewart said the borough’s share will be paid through its five-year capital bond.

The preliminary design work is finished, officials said. Work is underway on the final design phase, which includes looking at more detailed design and drainage, and landscape details. The final design phase is expected to be finished later this year, according to Slonus.

Officials are waiting for the state to commit the funds for the project.

Karen Svetz, regional transportation engineer with the NVCOG, said there will be funding for the work.

“We’re just going through the formalities to get the funds secured right now, and the DOT has been involved right from the get-go,” Svetz said. “There’s no question that the project will be funded.”

The state Department of Transportation is involved with the review and the design, and is expected to complete an administrative review of the project this winter, officials said. Once officials get the final approval from DOT, the borough will seek bids on the project. Officials anticipate going out to bid by the beginning of next year.

Construction was originally planned to start this year. Stewart said state reviews were delayed and utility work had to be done before the work can start, pushing construction back. Officials are aiming to start work by next summer and hope to finish most of the construction in one season, he said.

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