By Michael P. Walsh
Special to the Voice
Phase 2 of the long-anticipated raising of Beach Street is set to begin this month, Mayor Nancy R. Rossi announced.
Rossi said the project will raise a section of Beach Street up to 11 feet above sea level to protect the area’s flood-prone neighborhoods.
The project will also help ignite economic development on the Beach Street corridor, she said.
“I am ecstatic for the final phase of the raising of Beach Street,” Rossi said. “The road raising will absolutely spur economic activity on Beach Street and the surrounding area.”
The mayor added, “I have been fighting for this project since I originally requested it be put first on the city of West Haven’s state bonding list, and I am grateful for the project to pass the final approval point.”
In May 2020, Rep. Dorinda Borer, D-West Haven, announced $5.2 million in state funding for Phase 2 of the road raising. The money joined $3.5 million in federal and local funding for Phase 1, including $2.94 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program and $560,000 from the city.
The two-phase project consists of raising an approximately 3,900-foot stretch of First Avenue and Beach Street from Monahan Place, near the Water Pollution Control Plant, to Morse Avenue, near the former Chick’s Drive-in restaurant.
Phase 1 was completed two years ago and raised the road up to 7 feet from Monahan Place to the wastewater treatment plant.
Just over a decade ago, the area was 5 feet underwater during Superstorm Sandy, City Engineer Abdul Quadir said.
Phase 2 had been delayed since 2021 because of a protected species of grass that had been discovered by officials from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection during the permitting process.
“I want to thank City Engineer Abdul Quadir for his assistance in guiding the project through each delay,” Rossi said.
Quadir said Phase 2 will raise Beach Street from the treatment plant to Morse Avenue and should take about eight months to complete.
The project, like its counterpart, will include new sidewalks and a two-way bike lane on the beach side of the road, he said.
On Oct. 29, 2012, the Water Pollution Control Plant at 2 Beach St. was inaccessible to staff members and emergency vehicles for nearly 12 hours due to extensive flooding from Sandy.
Thanks to federal and state funding to help Connecticut municipalities mitigate flooding in the wake of the superstorm, the city has taken steps to make its shoreline more resilient to tidal flooding and coastal storms, including dredging the Old Field Creek salt marsh off Beach Street and installing a new tide gate system on the Cove River.