With this weekend’s heat, thousands are expected to flock to Ocean Beach Park in New London. But the city is working on a paving project on Ocean Avenue – a main artery to the beach – which means drivers can expect detours.
Ocean Avenue, south of Gardner Avenue to Neptune Avenue, will be closed Friday, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday from morning through evening.
The recommended route to Ocean Beach will be from Montauk Avenue to Pequot Avenue, but there are other detours posted, too.
Local traffic will have access to Ocean Avenue.
New London Public Works Director Brian Sear calls the approximately $2 million project a total “reclamation and repave.” It’s state-funded through a grant. The work started in September and was supposed to be completed by April. But there were some utility conflicts that set it back.
Sear said the project is in its last two weeks.
“I guess it’s inconvenient for people who are used to using the road but they’re going to end up with a brand new road and they’re detouring one block,” Sear said.
New London Mayor Michael Passero called it a “nightmare scenario” now that it’s impacting beach season.
Fourth of July and Sailfest, which is coming up on July 14, are two of the busiest weekends in New London, according to Police Chief Peter Reichard.
“Maybe not the ideal time to do it but it is what it is,” Reichard said.
Ocean Beach’s manager said the beach could see 10,000 people on both Saturday and Sunday.
There will be extra officers out to help mitigate traffic flow.
“We knew it was going to be a hot, muggy weekend and that usually attracts large crowds to the beaches. Not only Ocean Beach but some of the private beaches off Pequot Avenue,” Reichard added.
People who live in the area said on a typical beach weekend, traffic is bad enough. On popular weekends or holidays, some residents have seen cars back up a mile and half, sometimes farther.
“It’s horrible! The worst weekend in the world to cut it up the way they did,” said Debbra Ellison who lives on Neptune Avenue, right before the gates to Ocean Beach.
She’s not happy about the weekend chosen to do the road work.
“It’s going to be bad. I’m not going out,” Ellison said.
“The traffic’s going to be incredible now,” chimed Lenny Lindh of New London, who feels similarly as final preparations and paving starts on the road.
But some residents are just going with the flow.
“I choose not to be bothered by those and we’re going to enjoy ourselves and this beautiful weather,” Jennifer Tattersall said.