Tuesday, January 3, 2023

2023 Eversource Trail Closures Expected

The Eversource "Pootatuck Rebuild Project" was approved by the Connecticut Siting Council on Dec. 8, 2022, so we are on track for extensive trail closures in 2023. Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in late February near Bridgeport Avenue and working north from there. Trail closures will be at Shelton Lakes and French's Hill only. All other trail systems should be fine. 

Eversource will be building new roads and upgrading existing ones, grading out large flat pads for new monopole towers, and then taking down the old towers. This is going to have a significant impact on the trails, short term as well as long term. 

The work zone bisects most of our loops, so hikers wishing to be sure of a good loop hike in 2023 may need to look elsewhere, such as Nicholdale Farm, Boehm Pond, Birchbank Mountain, or Indian Well. Trail maps are posted on the Conservation Commission's website

Here is how specific trails at Shelton Lakes will be impacted: 

The Rec Path: Most of this 4-mile trail will be fine. The area south of Oak Valley Road under the powerlines will be closed for an extended period of time, however, and there is no simple way around it. This is roughly the middle of the trail. Eversource will be regrading the area around Great Ledge for new towers and will ultimately shift the Rec Path a bit. 

Turkey Trot Trail: The "inner loop" section that follows the powerlines (giving cross country runners their 5K), will be buried in earthwork for two new towers and we are not sure how or where the new trail location will be when work is completed. The outer loop crosses the powerlines in two places that may be closed for roadway improvements, and there will otherwise be truck traffic. 

Oak Valley Trail: The north powerline crossing near Shelton Avenue may be closed on some occasions, and truck traffic should be expected. For the south crossing near Oak Valley Road, the red blazes follow the powerlines up and over a hill that will be a work zone.  But it is easy to bypass that walk along the powerlines and cross directly instead. Expect truck traffic and possible road upgrades. 

Nells Rock Trail: The far end of this trail crosses directly under two sets of towers and will be heavily impacted. There will be extensive grading, a new road parallel with the old utility road, and slightly new tower locations. The north junction does have an alternate route mostly used by mountain bikes that avoids going under the existing tower. This is near the Rec Path.  

Paugussett Trail: This trail should be mostly fine between Buddington Road and Silent Waters. Sections between Independence Drive and Constitution Blvd will be heavily impacted and impassible at times. Northbound travelers can avoid the entire mess after passing Silent Waters by staying on the white-blazed Rec Path/Turkey Trot Trail past the junction where the blue blazes turn left up the hill, and following the Rec Path to Constitution Blvd. Turn left on the road and follow it for 0.3 mile to rejoin the Paugussett on the right. (See map below). 

Paugussett Trail detour bypasses work in the vicinity
of Independence and Wellington Drives

Click on our custom Google Map of the trails for more detail (use this on your phone to locate your current location while hiking the trail).  Red hazard triangles are where new tower pads will be constructed and where the trail is mostly likely to be closed. Orange hazard triangles are where utility roads are being upgraded or new roads built, and hikers should expect construction equipment even if the trail is not closed. 

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