Voters in Tuesday's Election get the final say on proposed public works projects in neighborhoods with aging infrastructure and crumbling, irreparable roadways and chronic flooding and storm water drainage problems.
Question #5 on the Nov. 2, 2010 ballot asks Middletown voters to approve a $2 million bond initiative for new roadways, sidewalks and sewer drains in neighborhoods with the worst problems in Middletown, according to town officials.
If approved by voters, new paving and asphalt, storm and sewage drains, along with incidental features such as sidewalks and curbs, would be installed and reconstructed on the following streets beginning in the spring or summer of 2011: Continental Drive, Concord Drive, Plymouth Avenue, Long Meadow, Winthrop Drive, Haymaker Road and Smithfield Drive, said Thomas R. O'Loughlin, Middletown's Public Works Director.
As far back as the mid 1990s, town officials have revisited plans to replace the infrastructure on some or all of those streets and current plans are based on more recent assessments the town undertook beginning in 2002, he said.
After rating and evaluating all roadways in town, those streets were prioritized because they had "completedly failed" and the asphalt was "beyond repair," as well as posed significant problems to the town's stormwater drainage system.
"These neighborhoods are some of the older neighborhoods in town so obviously some of the infrastructure could have been installed in the '50s and '60s," said O'Loughlin. He later added, "The storm drainage systems, based on their age, are inadequate based on the current standards in place, and based on a practical and functional standpoint, they are in the 'failed' category."
At least one pipe is actually pushing through the surface of the street while other storm drains have had their tops with metal grates removed and capped, he said, noting, "It's also a safety issue to anyone walking or riding a bike."
A recent drive along Continental Drive and connecting roadways revealed countless patched potholes, severely cracked and splintered roadway surfaces that spiderwebbed off and stretched for entire lengths of streets, buckled areas as high as speed bumps, and closed off drains. Orange construction barrels were placed at other dangerous drains.
Stormwater runoff also has also been a persistent problem for residents in especially the Continental / Concord neighborhood, he said. "These systems can't handle the runoff, so the stormwater is basically running down the streets onto people's properties."
"Every time it rains I get a really big puddle in front of my mailbox," said Helene Shroad, a resident of Concord Drive, where neighbors had collected signatures several years ago requesting repairs. "Our road has a really big need. It has been promised for a very long time and nothing has been done. Every year it keeps getting worse."
The improved sewer pipes will also help improve the water quality of runoff before it reaches the holding ponds, thereby reducing contaminants in the waste water system that eventually reaches the beaches, according to O'Loughlin.
If approved, the $2 million bond would fund the road construction, sidewalks and the connecting street drainage, while the town's separate fund for wastewater infrastructure would cover the sewer mains, O'Loughlin said, noting that it made sense for town officials to plan the projects concurrently.
In June, the Town Council voted unanimously to put the bond initiative before voters, seeking their final approval for Middletown to finance $2 million over 20 years, reportedly resulting in an average $15 increase on the average homeowners' tax bill the first year. It's estimated that the new improvements would last about 50 years and that by the end of the 20-year note, the financed costs would total about $2.8 million.