UPDATE: Construction has begun on a storage facility near the Margaret Egan Center that will house equipment for the Naugatuck Avenue drainage project. Read our earlier article about the project below:

Funding for a drainage project aimed at fixing flooding conditions that have plagued Naugatuck Avenue near Bridgeport Avenue for what some people say has been more than 50 years was approved this week by the Board of Aldermen.

Within a year, residents and others like those at St. Ann’s Church and Devon Duckpin Bowling on Naugatuck Avenue should find the flooding problems behind them, city officials said.

On Wednesday night Milford’s Board of Aldermen approved bonding $3.7 million for the construction phase of the drainage project, which will be reimbursed by the state and federal government, according to Mayor Ben Blake.

The city was responsible for 10% of the cost, but that was covered with money the city set aside in 2008 to pay for design work.

Years ago, at the beginning of this long effort to secure funds and fix the flooding problem, residents said flooding had long been a problem on Naugatuck Avenue. A former firefighter said back then that he used to respond to the area once a year for flooding issues: people stuck in their cars because of high water, and calls from people with flooded basements.

"St. Ann's Church has probably been hit the worst over the years," he said.

Residents at times expressed anger over the amount of time it took to start fixing the problem. But even former Mayor James Richetelli Jr. said years ago that it wasn’t a case of stalling, something Mayor Blake echoed this week. Richetelli said his administration started working on the problem around 2005: In addition to studies and securing funds, the city also had to work with the state on portions of the road that had been under state jurisdiction. Add to that the paperwork needed to secure funding from several government agencies, Blake said.

Blake said the project will stretch from the VFW on Naugatuck Avenue to the intersection with Bridgeport Avenue.

“It will improve that area tremendously,” the mayor said.

Public Works Director Chris Saley said the project is expected to take 230 working days. The bulk of the project includes constructing a system of chambers in the ground near the VFW building: Those chambers are designed to slow the water and clean it before it reaches the river.

Also, 18- and 24-inch pipes that carry water under Naugatuck Avenue will be replaced with 36- and 48-inch pipes. Existing pipes date back to the 1930s. According to a project report, the existing pipes are in fair condition for their age, but officials have often said they are too small for the amount of development in the area.

“This is huge, exponentially,” Saley said, explaining that when you go from an 18-inch pipe to a 36-inch pipe, the amount of water the pipe can carry increases more than the size might suggest.

A pre-construction meeting will take place Sept. 24, and work will start soon after near the VFW. The existing infrastructure will remain in place until the new system is operational, Saley said, responding to a question about the impact of storms as the project is underway.