Wilton may have to pay $1.5 million for Scribner Hill repairs

Photo of J.D. Freda
The northbound lane on Scribner Hill Road in Wilton needs $1.5 million in repairs.

The northbound lane on Scribner Hill Road in Wilton needs $1.5 million in repairs.

J.D. Freda / Hearst Connecticut Media

WILTON — If a request for state funds is denied, Wilton may be on the hook for $1.5 million to make necessary repairs on Scribner Hill Road, officials said.

The money would have to come from either the town's operating budget or through bonding, 

The estimated $1.5 million pricetag recently came back to the town after Cardinal Consulting did road borings to determine the extent of the damages. It would cover 330 feet of concrete work, said Department of Public Works Head Frank Smerigli.

The road's northbound lane, which careens off to a steep, hilly slope to the east, has been closed since June after officials noticed it was starting to dip more. Since then, the southbound lane has been operating as a one-lane road with stop signs bordering the closed section.

Cardinal Consulting found there is "a lot of loose ledge underneath the road," Smeriglio said. The engineering firm suspects water is trapped under the road and is traveling through the ledge, causing cracking and settling and making the road unsafe for vehicles to drive on. 

The way that work is paid for isn't exactly cut-and-dry, though.

Each road in town is put into different classifications by the state, Smeriglio explained, noting that the volume of cars plays a particularly large role in that distinction. With Scribner Hill Road's car volume being relatively low when compared to other town roads, it is currently in a classification of road that doesn't qualify for a state Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program grant, which generally covers road repairs.

Smeriglio said town is looking to have the Connecticut Department of Transportation reclassify the road as an urban collector road, which is eligible for the grant under the classifications, so it can try to get state funds to pay for the repairs. 

"It might take some time," he said.

But time is a key factor, as those grant applications are due Oct. 7. Because of that, Smeriglio said the town will submit the proposal for the grant to the Western Connecticut Council of Government, which administers the grant, while concurrently sending out the reclassification application to DOT. Smeriglio said they would submit updated paperwork to WestCOG if the road is reclassified during the grant consideration process.

The selectmen approved submitting the proposal to WestCOG at its recent meeting. If approved for the grant, Wilton would still have to pay the design cost of $110,000.

"If somehow it doesn't get reclassified, then we would have to propose this work as part of a budget request," Smeriglio said, "either for Fiscal Year 2024 or try to come up with some funds to do this work."

First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said during the meeting the town does not have $1.5 million to set aside for the project, so it would have to take this to a bonding referendum.

Smeriglio said that if the grant is approved, there will "definitely not be enough time" to do the project by next summer based on when the grants would be awarded and the needed state approval for using state money. If the grant is denied, the state wouldn't have to approve the plans because the project wouldn't use state money.

Vanderslice doubted it would be ready for construction next summer even if the grant is denied because bonding would delay the process.