Naugatuck Avenue rebuild expected to fix long-time flooding problem

City officials are lauding the completion of the Naugatuck Avenue reconstruction project, a long-time-coming effort to fix flooding in the Devon area of Milford.

“For the last 50 years we’ve had flooding all along Naugatuck Avenue, and we have finally completed a drainage project and reconstructed a large stretch of road,” said Mayor Ben Blake. “And for the next 50 years there’s going to be smooth sailing down this street.”

Public Works Director Chris Saley said the project consisted of a 2,100-linear-foot road reconstruction with an upgrade to the drainage system.

Improvements were made to some sidewalks and curbs as the work was being completed.

“Twelve thousand cars a day travel this road and it was really a major inconvenience for a lot of the residents while the process was going on,” Saley said.

But in the long run, all that inconvenience will prove worth it, he said.

The City of Milford, in conjunction with the State of Connecticut and the federal government, undertook the drainage construction project on Naugatuck Avenue to help alleviate flooding problems that section of the road had experienced for many years during heavy rains.

The project started in October of 2015.

Construction began at the intersection of Beaver Brook and Naugatuck Avenue, near the VFW building, and continued up Naugatuck Avenue to the intersection with Bridgeport Avenue, and then another 200 feet beyond that.

Residents and others like those at St. Ann’s Church and Devon Duckpin Bowling on Naugatuck Avenue should now find their flooding problems behind them, city officials predicted as the project was getting underway.

In September of 2015, Milford’s Board of Aldermen approved bonding $3.7 million for the construction phase of the drainage project, to be reimbursed by the state and federal government.

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 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 in 2105. 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.

The bulk of the project included 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 carried water under Naugatuck Avenue were replaced with 36-and 48-inch pipes. The pipes that were removed dated back to the 1930s. According to a project report, the existing pipes were in fair condition for their age, but officials have often said they were just 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.