New Milford approves $6 million bond issue for roads

Photo of Katrina Koerting
Squire Hill Road in New Milford is slated to be repaired after residents on Monday approved a $6 million bond to pay for the work.
Squire Hill Road in New Milford is slated to be repaired after residents on Monday approved a $6 million bond to pay for the work.H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticut Media

NEW MILFORD — Improvement projects are set to start on several roads by the end of the year, now that the town has approved a bond issue to pay for them.

About 100 residents attending Monday night’s town meeting unanimously approved the $6 million bond issue to pay for projects over the next two years.

“We have to bite the bullet so we can get roads up to the proper condition,” resident Jeff McBrearity said.

This first round of road repairs is part of a larger plan expected to cost about $40 million and take about eight years to redo all town roads.

Resident John Oakes said the town has consistently underfunded the road work, leading a consultant to classify about 11 percent of the roads as in “critical” condition and 32 percent as “below average.”

“We’ve all seen the results,” he said. “Our roads have steadily decreased in value.”

Long Mountain and Squire Hill roads would be the first to be improved. Both roads have been included in the capital plan for several years, and were listed as priorities by the road advisory committee and the Department of Public Works.

The first phase includes repairing a bridge on Tamarack Road in the northern part of town.

Improvements will include taking up the asphalt, adding sub-basins, improving drainage and putting down new asphalt.

Many residents who spoke at Monday’s meeting live on one of the two roads, and they described them as dangerous and pitted with potholes. Some added the deterioration was exacerbated on Long Mountain Road by utility trucks that drive to and from the Eversource facility.

Some residents suggested asking Eversource to pay for some of the repairs.

While everyone in attendance agreed on paying for the improvements, some disagreed about which roads should receive priority. Most wanted the entire three-plus miles of Long Mountain to be fixed, instead of just the 1.8-mile section planned.

They said they were told in September that construction would start this spring and questioned the delay.

Public Works Director Michael Zarba said the department was unable to start earlier because there was no money to pay for it.

Public Works is looking at other roads to determine which would be repaired using the bond money, focusing on those near other roads scheduled for repairs so they could take advantage of the proximity.

Some residents urged the town to hire outside firms to make the improvements rather than spot-fixes by filling pot holes.

The roads not included in the bond work would be incorporated into long-term planning with money allocated annually in the operating budget or from the capital reserve fund.

Mayor Pete Bass plans to present this long-term plan, which he has been preparing with the Public Works Department and the schools, to Town Council next month. Updates will be posted on the Public Works Department’s Facebook page and another meeting will be scheduled for a project update.

“This is the beginning of the process of fixing our roads,” Bass said.; 203-731-3345