No Surprise: Kings Highway North Construction Continues

From President Kennedy’s challenge to Neil Armstrong’s first small/giant step, it took the US just over 8 years to land a man on the moon.

The 2nd Avenue subway was first proposed in 1920. It opened a mere 97 years later.

Both those timelines seem like warp speed, compared to what’s going on at Kings Highway North.

For the few residents and many offices — particularly medical — on that short stretch between Main Street and Canal Street, life has seemed disrupted for eons.

Once upon a time, traffic flowed easily on Kings Highway North. (Photo courtesy of Google Street View)

The jackhammering, pipe clanging and truck beep-beeping is one thing.

The fact that it happens randomly — a few days of “work” here, long stretches of nothing except ripped-up road there, then another day of street closure — is infuriating too.

But just as maddening is that no one living and working on Kings Highway North —  and patients of the many doctors — can get a straight answer about what’s going on.

And when (if ever) it will end.

Dr. Susan Finkelstein — a psychiatrist with an office at 164 Kings Highway North — wrote:

Again this morning the road is closed on both sides. No signage, and no response from Aquarion.

I called the Westport police this a.m. They say there is access, but if you aren’t brave enough to override sawhorses, it looks closed.

NO signage or workers to direct patients. I contacted Aquarion manager Mark McCaffrey –no response.

I just wanted to update you and your readers on how the local “upgrades” are doing exactly the opposite!

Dr. Finekelstein wrote that last week. I apologize for not posting it sooner.

Then again, I can probably wait until 2098. It will still be timely.

7 responses to “No Surprise: Kings Highway North Construction Continues

  1. Aquarion did the exact same thing with its infamous water main replacement on Myrtle Ave in 2018. Residents begged the company to just collect the email addresses of those most impacted so as to keep them informed. Small ask, right? Nope. The company refused. But the Administration was, in some ways, even worse. It knew all about Aqarion’s rank incompetence and basically told the residents: “You’re on your own.”

    By the way, the trouble on Kings Highway North is really just beginning; the Dept. of Public Works is now seeking to replace the little historic stone bridge over there – at a cost of nearly 2.5 million dollars. Notwithstanding the fact that its estimate in 2017 was in the 600K range, the delays and closures are likely going to persist for a while. Welcome to Westport – where everything gets supersized whether it needs it or not.

    • Addison A. Armstrong

      Morley, thank you for your comments. As I have pointed out in these pages before, the inability of the town administration to manage Aquarion’s projects is really pathetic. And it galls me to no end the way Myrtle Avenue was left – and the town administrators have to drive on that road everyday! If they can tolerate the state of Myrtle Avenue, is it no wonder that other Aquarion malfeasance and sloppiness are ignored? Good luck with the water tanks on North Avenue!!

      • The disappointing thing is that after the dust settled on the Myrtle Ave. water main project, local residents wrote the First Selectman asking for a post mortem discussion on lessons learned. It was too late for us, of course, but as Aquarion has indicated that it intends to upgrade water mains throughout Westport, we felt that perhaps we could possibly help prevent other Westporters from having to go through what we went through. The First Selectman did not respond to our initial inquiry. Finally, after several more attempts, we received a terse reply which roughly translated to “no”. I almost had the feeling that we were the enemy.

  2. Rosemary Milligan

    Morely – having lived in Westport for 40 years I am interested in what goes on – so why is the little stone bridge being replaced – there must be a reason (ha ha), it os so depressing to see what has happened to “my” town.

    • Rosemary, the Readers Digest version is this: the stone bridge is being replaced owing to structural deficiencies associated with its deck. Exactly no one wishes to have a bridge which is less than safe, however, the unfortunate bit is that the town refuses to listen to the wishes of the owners of said bridge; the taxpayers. At the last public information presentation on this project not a single stakeholder expressed support for the town’s crummy pre-cast cement replacement span. Not one. Residents asked to see alternatives which preserved the pastoral nature of the bridge – not something that looked like it belongs on Route 8.
      Yet the project stumbled on unchanged. At the RTM committee level, the town was again asked to price out and present alternatives to replacement – such as reconstruction, etc. The town agreed on the record but promptly ignored this directive. Then the Historic District Commission, at the request of local preservationists, got into the act – pointing out that this bridge was part of a family of nine matching stone bridges unique to Westport and that the new Town Plan of Conservation and Development called them out as historically significant. The preservationists asked that the bridges be historically designated. The Commission voted unanimously to move forward with that. The Commission also asked to play a part in the project and requested a list of key design criteria. The town responded that it would def do that. It never did, of course. The Historic District Commission eventually went back to sleep and forgot all about the entire matter – until earlier this month when those same preservationists came back and woke the Historic District Commission up. They asked that the previously mentioned nine bridges be historically designated – again. The designation would not prevent the maintenance or alteration of the bridges at issue – it would only insure that their character, scale and essential nature remain as intact as reasonably possible. The Historic District Commission thought this was a great idea and unanimously voted to pursue it. Right.

      About a week later, a public notice suddenly popped up indicating that the Board of Finance will be – surprise – reviewing a 2.4 M appropriation request from the Dept. of Public Works to replace the Kings Highway North Bridge.

  3. Where is that picture on Kings Highway? Doesn’t look like the road I knew.