Darien received a federal grant of $250,000 for a transit-access study in 2015 and the town is now starting to see the benefits. The Connecticut Department of Transportation began a project to replace both platforms at the Noroton Heights train station on March 27.

Noroton Heights has become the site of major redevelopment in town and the railroad station can certainly expect more traffic as new projects bring more apartments to the area.

The Department of Transportation hired Manafort Brothers Inc. as the project’s contractor at a cost of $6.27 million in October 2016. Public Works Director Ed Gentile said other insurance, fees and other charges bring the overall cost of the project closer to $8 million for the state.

Replacement of the platforms will be done in stages to prevent full closure on either side of the train station. The project is separated into four separate stages with two winter shutdowns, as the concrete would not set properly under cold conditions. Setup for demolition of the platforms is now underway, but the project is expected to go on through November 2018.

While each stage is underway, a 400 foot portion of the platform would remain accessible to commuters. Along with replacing the deteriorating  concrete walkways, the project aims to improve the station’s fixtures, including the eastbound platform shelter, guard and handrails and lighting improvements. Commuters can expect general quality of life improvements around the station.

As a result of the project, the southern side of Noroton Heights parking lot will lose about 30 commuter parking spaces. Town Administrator Kate Buch said the town issued about 20 less permits for the Noroton Heights to prepare for the loss of parking at the station. Gentile said the contractor’s decision to change the method of concrete pour for the project saved an additional 20 parking spaces that may have been lost.

“The fact that they went to a poured construction… they eliminated the need for 20 additional spaces during certain times of unloading,” Gentile said. “I think that alone eliminated any question I had in my mind with regards to the parking availability and making sure our permit holders have spaces. So I don’t think there’s an issue.”

Town officials see the parking loss as the largest negative impact for commuters over the course of the project. However, the lot in question does not reach capacity on a daily basis and, more crowded days are usually predictable. Gentile said spots are usually available depending on the day, though Wednesdays are the most filled.

“I will tell you the commuters all know the patterns, they will tell you what’s a good day, bad day, where to come in, which side to come in from, to make sure that you get to a good space at a certain time during the day,” Gentile said.

The lost spaces would be occupied by two work trailers and necessary equipment for the contractors. Employees of Manafort Brothers have been told to park on Hollow Tree Ridge, which will be designated as contractor permit parking only. Gentile said this step was taken to ensure the commuter parking was separated and the town’s parking enforcement wasn’t improperly ticketing the project’s workers.

According to Gentile the Public Works office is now in daily communication with Manafort Brothers and either he or Assistant Public Works Director Darren Oustafine have been attending weekly meetings with the contractors to as the project gets underway.

kwebb@darientimes.com