Ansonia Mayor David Cassetti announced Tuesday that the city has received a grant of up to $3.5 million from the state to rebuild a mile-long stretch of Wakelee Avenue.
Work won’t begin for at least several months, but the mayor said the work is needed to refurbish what is essentially the Main Street for the city’s west side.
In addition to the pavement being in poor condition, sidewalks in the area are intermittent or in disrepair, and there are drainage problems as well.
“I’ve always considered Wakelee Avenue to be one of the most beautiful streets, and a gateway to both Ansonia and Derby,” Cassetti told about 25 people gathered at Wakelee Avenue and Jackson Street for Tuesday’s announcement.
“I’m thrilled to announce that we are going to wake up Wakelee Avenue this morning,” Cassetti said. “It has been a tired and overlooked street for far too long.”
The city will kick in about $350,000 for design costs.
The state money was awarded through the state Department of Transportation’s Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program, which is adminstered locally by the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments.
The map below shows the area to be rebuilt.
In addition to milling and repaving the road, the work will also include new curbing, concrete curb ramps, sidewalks, crosswalks, driveway aprons, and drainage work.
Even “fancy lighting,” Cassetti said.
The work will cost so much because the road isn’t in great shape to begin with, and crews will also replace drainage pipes, catch basins, and do work to protect other subterranean features built over the years.
“Off Clarkson street there’s a granite raceway that runs from Webb Terrace all the way down to the river,” Cassetti said. “We’ve got to make sure when we’re doing the excavation that we secure that.”
Sheila O’Malley, the city’s grants writer and director of economic development, said design work for such a project typically takes three to six months, but some of the work was already completed when the city was applying for the state grant.
“We’re hoping for a three-month phase of engineering, and then after that the bidding process and construction can begin,” O’Malley said.
Several members of the Board of Aldermen were on hand for Tuesday’s announcement, including Joan Radin and Anthony Cassetti, whose Fifth Ward includes Wakelee Avenue.
Radin, owner of Lear Pharmacy a stone’s throw from the site of Tuesday’s announcement, said improving the road will mean a lot for business owners in the area.
“Any time there’s an accident on Route 8 we get backed up with traffic in both directions,” she said.
“It’s going to make it really inviting to the public,” Anthony Cassetti said.
Bill Purcell, president of the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce, highlighted the many of the businesses operating nearby.
“This is a beautiful mixed-use neighborhood. You could call it ‘Barristers’ Row’ with the attorneys, you could call it ‘Medical Row,’ ‘Pharmacy Row,’ ‘Health Row,’” he said. “It is indeed a very vital corridor.”
Cassetti said the city will try to keep a lane of Wakelee Avenue open while the work is going on.