Pothole-riddled road at Conn. state park to be repaired after years of first responder complaints

First responders said they have had to slowly navigate large apparatus around the potholes to respond to many emergencies at the park's pond and cliff-hiking area


John Penney
Norwich Bulletin, Conn.

KILLINGLY, Conn. — After years of neglect, a state park road used frequently by local first responders is finally slated to get some attention.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection on Wednesday said crews in the coming weeks will patch and fill the numerous potholes pocking a road leading off Ross Road to the pond and cliff-hiking areas inside Old Furnace State Park in Killingly.

The repair news was announced a day after a Bulletin article on the issue in which South Killingly Fire Department Chief Seth DeAngelis expressed frustration over the state's seeming lack of attention on the problem, along with his fears that road conditions could hamper his department's response time.

DeAngelis said his volunteers have been called out to the pond twice in recent years for near-drownings. Firefighters earlier this month responded to a brush fire in the area that required heavy emergency vehicles to gingerly navigate the deep ruts and craters that mark several sections of the half-mile stretch of powdery asphalt.

Though the road is considered state land, it's local emergency services, like the South Killingly department, that are tasked with responding to medical and fire calls in the park, including injuries on the popular cliff-walking areas.

DeAngelis said getting a 5,000-lb. truck-hitched Zodiac rescue boat down the road is difficult, while moving a 60,000-lb. tanker or technical rescue truck is an even slower endeavor.

DeAngelis said he's been trying for more than eight years to get the state to fix the road, but had no luck getting anyone from DEEP to even respond to his concerns. Those concerns were shared by state Rep. Anne Dauphinais who said this week she'd twice tried to reach DEEP officials on the issue with no success.

"I'm thankful and appreciative the work is going to get done, but it's certainly frustrating that we had no indication that the state was planning this," DeAngelis said. "In this day and age, when there're so many large scale incidents, like big storms, we're all dealing with, having a good line of communication is so important. A little communication goes a long way and I'm not that hard to get a hold of."

In a Tuesday email, Will Healey, media relations manager with DEEP, said his department is "aware of the deteriorated condition of the road."

"We have a project underway to patch and fill the potholes, which we endeavor to complete in the coming weeks," he wrote. "We don't have a specific schedule just yet- still waiting on the purchase order for materials to be finalized, and then we'll line up staffing and determine a good weather window to perform the work. As I said before, the goal is to complete the work in the coming weeks."

It is not clear exactly when the repair work was scheduled or why no one from DEEP previously responded to DeAngelis' or Dauphinais' complaints.

"This road, along with a number of other roads that compose the hundreds of miles of paved and unpaved roads DEEP oversees across the state, has been on our radar for some time," Healy said in an email. "DEEP does its best to address the most pressing areas in need of repair, and we also appreciate local officials raising awareness around particular areas, as has happened in this case."

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©2020 Norwich Bulletin, Conn.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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