Hillspoint Road sidewalk. / Photos by Thane Grauel
Hillspoint Road sidewalk. / Photos by Thane Grauel

By Thane Grauel

WESTPORT — A complete rebuild of the sidewalk along Hillspoint Road, from Old Mill Beach to Hales Road, should start sometime in the late summer or fall.

That will mean the many walkers in the corridor might have to dodge construction cones and poured concrete on their daily outings.

The state Department of Transportation’s Community Connectivity Grant Program will ultimately foot most of the $473,000 bill. Westport’s share in the end will be $165,351. The Representative Town Meeting this week gave final approval to $473,000 appropriation on Tuesday. The town has to put up the money first, then apply for reimbursement.

Town Engineer Keith Wilberg said Thursday the Department of Public Works is still working on obtaining easements from four property owners to expand the sidewalk, which now is a hodgepodge of sizes and has accessibility issues.

Various stretches of the Hillspoint Road sidewalk. / Photos by Thane Grauel

“Sometimes that’s easy, sometimes it’s time-consuming,” he said of the easements.

With local funding and approvals in place, next comes the DOT’s approval of the final plans and related paperwork.

The project has been in the works since 2017, Public Works Director Peter Ratkiewich told the RTM.

“We’re excited to get it going,” he said, noting the process began with his predecessor, Steve Edwards.

Various stretches of the Hillspoint Road sidewalk. / Photos by Thane Grauel

“It’s in dire need,” Ratkiewich said. “The sidewalk varies in width from four feet down to two feet in some places. This is a heavily traveled corridor, because it leads to Old Mill Beach, it leads to Compo Beach, it’s part of the loop that hits all of our recreational facilities … Longshore as well.”

He said people use the sidewalk all year.

“Which really says there’s no good time to do this work,” Ratkiewich said. “It’s pretty busy from construction season, anytime from March through to November, you still have a lot of people using this so I have no illusion that this is going to be an easy construction job …”

Wilberg said that unlike the civilian world, public works projects take years, not months.

“What we’re building today we were planning a few years ago,” he said. “What we build in a few years, we’re planning today.”

Thane Grauel grew up in Westport and has been a journalist in Fairfield County and beyond for 35 years. Reach him at editor@westportjournal.com. Learn more about us here.