Westport public works stimulus money moves forward
The wait is over. Soon, work can begin.
Westport received authorization from the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) to proceed with $975,000 in pavement repairs received from the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Of the $787 billion in federal funds, the stimulus money was intended for "shovel-ready" projects. Although the shovels have been ready for months, the money was not.
Edwards knew the approval was coming, but after he didn't receive it in September, he expected it to come some time in February.
The town will front the funding for the project and be reimbursed once the work is completed, according to Edwards. With the stringent state and federal guidelines, the paving of the roads couldn't begin last year. Typically, about 10 miles of routine maintenance is performed each year.
According to Edwards, the paperwork practically required a full-time employee just to fill everything out, and only certain roads qualified. With the money, work on Cross Highway, Long Lots Road and Newtown Turnpike are expected to be finished in late spring. Depending on the conditions, the top surface of the asphalt will be removed and repaved or new pavement will go over the existing surface.
From the onset of the department's reductions in the 2009-10 town budget, stimulus money was seen as a viable option to recoup some of the cut money. The Westport DPW, along with other municipalities in the Southwest Regional Planning Agency (SWRPA), applied for funds for different projects. Approximately $9.2 million was eventually approved for local municipalities, most of which went to paving projects.
ConnDOT guidelines for towns and cities across the state note that, "Timing is critical for the application of preservation treatments -- a list of projects for one year may not be the best list the following year. This requires rapid project development and timely execution ... this very feature makes them excellent stimulus projects: ... they can be initiated, selected, and constructed rapidly."
While it may not have been as rapid as he hoped, Edwards said, "This will certainly help us out."