Noroton Heights platforms slated for replacement
Published 2:09 pm, Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Deteriorating platforms at the Noroton Heights railroad station will be replaced between March 2017 and late 2018, Connecticut Department of Transportation officials promised commuters last week.
The new platform decks will be treated with a protective coating to slow weather-related deterioration, said Thomas Laliberte, an outside project manager for Parsons Brinckerhoff who presented information about the project at a meeting Oct. 23.
“The platform sections are structurally deficient,” Laliberte said. “The project started out as a rehabilitation and partial replacement of platforms but an inspection warranted a full replacement of the platform sections.”
In addition to replacing the platforms which were built in the 1970s, other improvements at the station will be new ramps at the east end of the platforms, a new stretch of sidewalk at the north side of the station, energy efficient LED lights to replace existing lights and guard rails that comply with the American with Disabilities Act.
The project, estimated to cost $8 million, will be broken into four stages, with the first two phases replacing the south platform and displacing 31 and 34 spaces each. Stage one between April 2016 through July 2016, will replace the western half of the platform, and the second phase will replace other half of the platform between October 2016 and July 2017.
During phase three, work will replace the western half of the northern platform from early October to November 2017 and from early March to mid-April 2018. The anticipation is the work will break in early November to avoid conflicting with holiday related travel, Laliberte said.
Phase four will replace the eastern half of the northern platform between mid-April and July 2018.
At the end of the project the station will be closed completely for two weekends.
Town officials have lobbied state and federal lawmakers for increased funding to improve the station, arguing that the area around the station is expected to see major redevelopment changes in development due to several tracts being reclassified as a business overlay zone allowing greater mixed use development.
In addition to the already complete 106 unit Heights at Darien, Federal Realty Development recently proposed 90 apartments and 30,000 square feet of retail space at the Stop & Shop property, 150 residential units mixed with retail and restaurant space across the street, and another project, the Palmer Family Development, which could bring about 60 to 80 residential units with some retail space.
Jim Cameron, a member of the town’s Representative Town Meeting and founder of the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council, asked whether the state considered building longer platforms to accommodate 12 car trains in anticipation of possible growth.
Laliberte said the project only planned to replace the platforms to their established 850-foot length, but left open possible expansion of 4,400 more feet of platform in the eastern direction.
“There is a lot of development in that area and this station is going to be crucial for that development,” Cameron said. “I’m glad we’re getting back to a state of good repair but in the best of all worlds we’d be expanding. But I’m glad to see safety being reinstated.”
DOT Assistant Rail Administrator Tom Bernick, assistant rail coordinator, said the DOT is actively working to consider projects that improve conditions at and around stations throughout the state.
“There are a great many stations in need of repair and enhancement,” Bernick said. “I entertain all the time discussions about public private partnerships and all kinds of arrangements for creative funding and I’m all ears.”