MERIDEN — With construction season underway, the Public Works Department is getting ready to begin some projects and wrap others.
The Record-Journal recently caught up with Public Works Director Howard Weissberg to talk about the department’s projects. Here’s a roundup: 1. Pratt Street gateway
The city is hoping to finish the Pratt Street boulevard project next week, Weissberg said, adding that the completion will depend on how much it rains. Crews are in the process of striping the road and putting the final touches on the landscaped medians installed along Pratt Street. The project is estimated to cost $3.2 million in total, which is entirely state-funded, Weissberg said. 2. Road paving
Annual road paving and preservation work will begin in the coming weeks, Weissberg said. The city’s paving contractor will begin by doing repairs on more heavily-damaged sections of pavement on Murray and Liberty streets.
Weissberg said a list of other streets slated for paving will be “released once contractor availability is confirmed,” adding that all paving is expected to be completed by August.
“The city will be conducting a number of pavement preservation techniques this summer, including rubber membranes, hot-in-place recycling, and milling with bonded wearing courses,” Weissberg said.
The city budgets about $800,000 annually for the paving work. The city has contracted for this year’s paving with Massachusetts-based All States Materials Group, which also completed paving done last year. 3. Repairing road scarring
As part of this year’s paving, All States Materials Group has agreed to correct what Weissberg described as “chattering” or “scarring” found last year on some roads paved by the company.
Earlier this year, city officials said they believe the scarring was caused by a combination of cold temperatures and an early snowstorm. The colder-than-usual temperatures recorded in October and November last year extended the amount of time it took the new asphalt to cure. Because the asphalt was not set by the first snowstorm on Nov. 16, the plow blades caused “chattering” marks. Weissberg said he doesn’t consider the marks damage and called it an “aesthetic concern.”
The scarring was found on some of the roads paved last year, including Liberty Street, Murdock Avenue, Murray Street, and Wall Street.
The plan is for the city to complete paving earlier this year, in August, to ensure that the asphalt has time to set before temperatures drop, Weissberg said. He said the city had never had an issue with the contractor, who has paved the city’s roads for several years, prior to last year.4. New culvert at Amtrak bridge
As part of its ongoing flood control improvements, the city will install two large culverts underneath the railroad tracks near the former Church & Morse building on South Colony Street.
“There’s a bridge there right now that’s over Harbor Brook and that bridge doesn’t have the capacity to carry the stormwater flows, so by putting in these two extra pipes, it increases the capacity so we can avoid upstream flooding,” former Public Works Director Bob Bass said last year. “It’s just another piece of a very large puzzle.”
“It’s going to help carry the 100-year flood and further improve the drainage situation downtown,” Weissberg said.
The work is being partially funded by a $2.4 million Federal Emergency Management Agency grant, Bass said last year. 5. Paving Curtis center parking lot
The city-owned parking lot behind the Masjid Al-Rawdah mosque on East Main Street is being paved and will be finished in the coming weeks. The parking lot is adjacent to the Augusta Curtis Cultural Center and patrons of the cultural center park there. Weissberg said the paving will add about “10 or so” spots, giving the center more parking for events.