Upcoming Berlin Projects Not A Flood Issue

BERLIN — Amid rising concerns over stormwater issues in Berlin, town officials clarified this week that several fall road projects are not expected to impact stormwater either positively or negatively. However, one long-term sidewalk endeavor may need to be reviewed in terms of impact before its expected completion next year.

Earlier this week Public Works Director Mike Gibbons received final approval for two separate contracts, totaling a combined $129,996 for asphalt and concrete work in town.

“Basically, as for all of the asphalt work it is going to be improving the surface,” he said.

Totaling $65,161, the agreement with contractor Terra Firma will include paving, wedges, chip seals and other surface work on sections of Germantown Road and Buckingham Lane. At close to the same cost, Worth Construction will be handling the concrete side of the autumn Public Works project, taking care of crosswalks or sidewalks in sections of Flower, Franklin and Main streets as well as near Town Hall. The cost for those renovations will be $64,835.

While Gibbons stressed that the asphalt work shouldn’t impact stormwater issues at all, he did admit that the concrete side of the project did have the capacity to exacerbate flooding problems if not carefully monitored. With the sidewalks and crosswalks slated for completion this fall, Gibbons explained much of the work is basically maintenance and shouldn’t cause a noticeable change.

“A lot of it is removing and replacing existing,” he said.

However, there will be some minor expansion, especially with new sidewalks going in on Flower Street. While the amount expected for this year will fall under the 5,000-square-foot limit, expected completion of the project in 2013 could surpass that ceiling and necessitate a stormwater review.

“At that point, we may have to review it,” said Gibbons.

While stormwater aggravation is always an issue with any new construction or development effort, it is especially relevant now after a “1,000-year storm event” dropped more than 13 inches of rain in under 10 hours around Berlin last weekend. Widespread blackouts were reported but the real devastation came in the form of flash flooding, which left numerous motorists trapped by the rising water as well as causing a massive amount of damage to area properties.

According to Gibbons, the asphalt and concrete work have been on the drawing board for about six months. Completion is expected around mid-October for both projects, and Gibbons said his department will begin looking for new sections in town in need of attention.

“Washington Street is on the radar, Franklin Avenue is also on,” he said.