Darien’s mascot for this year and next may be the crane — the species seen on construction sites, not waterways. And we may be trading in blue for construction-site orange. Strap on your construction helmets, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride as both the state and town repave roads and bridges are replaced.
Darien frequently has construction projects going on across town, and house teardowns with replacement construction has been a frequent sight around town for years.
But this year and next look to be busier. Also dustier, muddier, and for drivers — slower.
We can expect to be slowing down as the Post Road gets a repaving project, as the bridge carrying Old Kings Highway North gets replaced — along with the one carrying the Post Road over Noroton River and Route 1 over Interstate 95 at Exit 9, just over the border in Stamford.
Noroton Railroad Station commuters will be driving around the (already begun) platform replacement project this year and next, and natural gas lines will be buried along West Avenue and a stretch of Noroton Avenue north of that. Site improvements for the intersection of West Avenue and Noroton Avenue are planned, as well.
If you drive on Hollow Tree Ridge Road near Heights Road, you may find construction crews widening the roadway to add a lane, as well as workers adjusting the traffic lights to better co-ordinate traffic on the road between West Avenue, Heights Road and the entrance to the Noroton Heights Railroad Station.
The state Department of Transportation expects to make improvements to traffic lights on the Post Road both at Exit 13 for northbound traffic and the entrance at Exit 13 for southbound traffic. Practice stretching your neck, because you’re going to be changing lanes left and right.
— Editor’s note: This article is published well before April 1 and is in no way an April Fool’s Day joke. They really are planning to build all this stuff.
At the high school, town officials expect a project to expand the cafeteria, along with more work on installing lights and improving sports fields nearby. Projects are also in the works this summer for Hindley School and other town schools.
On Ledge Road, the town public works garage — also used by the Parks & Recreation Department and Darien Public Schools maintenance workers and equipment — already has a building committee for its extensive refurbishing. Just yards away, a permanent building for the Darien Recycling Center’s Swap Shop is expected to be up this year.
A smaller project that should also slow traffic on the Post Road is expected at the railroad overpass of the Post Road, where an electric sign warning trucks about the low height is (finally) expected to be installed sometime this year, First Selectman Jayme Stevenson says. The property that the town just bought from the Ox Ridge Hunt Club is expected to get some minor improvements, including changes to make it easier to park there.
Add the usual town street paving and sewer projects to the list.
And then there are the private construction jobs: The major redevelopment projects for Noroton Heights will get going — and are expected to include a drainage project to reduce flooding at the low point of Heights Road. The Baywater Corbin project is expected to get underway within the next two construction seasons.
At Parklands Office Park, off of Old Kings Highway North (just south of where the bridge over I-95 is to be replaced) property owners are in the final stages of getting permission to demolish an office building and replace it with a nursing home. Land use boards have already approved the project, and the town Building Department is reviewing it.
Meanwhile, Maplewood at Darien, the nursing home at the corner of Brookside Road and the Post Road, is planning to expand its building to the east. A construction project in the small Noroton business district, between St. Luke’s Church and St. John Roman Catholic Church on the Post Road, is already well underway.
It might actually be quicker just to list the places in town that aren’t being replaced or getting additions over the next two construction seasons.