By SHERIDAN ROY
Members of the public works committee, along with town staff and staff of Weston and Sampson, hosted an Aug. 1 public informational meeting regarding the safety improvement project plans for downtown Plantsville. As long as everything goes according to plan, the renovations are projected to be completed by early winter 2020.
The overall aesthetics of the project will allow downtown Plantsville to be its own unique area. Whereas downtown Southington has a green-and-gold theme and its own unique style, downtown Plantsville will have a black color scheme. Public works committee member Dawn Miceli said Plantsville’s history, culture and heritage will be preserved.
“Things are moving along and it’s very exciting to be at this point,” said chair of the public works committee John Barry. “The project overall is certainly a need. We didn’t have funding back in 2008 when we first began discussing it, but it has never been forgotten.”
Barry said Weston and Sampson has been “very accommodating” and involved with the community throughout the process. “Our discussions with residents and property owners has been very open,” he said.
One property owner, Michael Mordarski, said the planning process has gone well. He had attended every workshop leading up to the informational meeting.
“There’s been lots of input through local business owners and property owners,” Mordarski said. “We’ve been able to get involved with the decision-making.”
The total cost for the renovations is estimated at $2.7 million, but the town received funding for the project in July 2018 through the state’s local transportation capital improvement program (LOTCIP).
“LOTCIP is a fairly new program that the state has put out that has taken federal money out of the equation, which means the review process is much easier and quicker, and most of the decision-making is in the town’s hands,” said Weston and Sampson project manager Lisa Slonus. “The state pays for the construction of the project, and the town pays for the design.”
Slonus said the project is mainly a safety improvement project, with beautification elements to it. Some of the concerns the plans address include limited sightlines for drivers entering intersections, illegal on-street parking, the alignment and crossing of the linear trail, intersection crosswalks, and overall utilization of road space.
Road and Trail Alignments
At the public informational meeting, Slonus showed the limited sightlines drivers have coming out of side streets. Similarly, sightlines are limited on route 10 approaching S. Main Street.
“You can see Summer Street is very close to the building on the corner, and sight lines coming out of the side streets are limited,” she said. “Headed eastbound on W. Main Street, you can barely see the car coming out on Summer Street.”
The intersection of Summer Street and W. Main Street will shift more to the east and be “T-ed up.” The trail head will be shifted east, so it will no longer cross directly in front of Summer Street.
The trail head and Summer Street will be realigned to improve pedestrian crossing and visibility of pedestrians. The new crossing of the trail will be perpendicular to West Main Street, allowing for a shorter, safer cross.
Weston and Sampson keyed in on removal of unnecessary pavement through the corridor, which will tighten roadways and calm traffic traveling through the downtown.
“Extra” pavement will be removed, and it will be replaced by both on-street parking, along with road-calming treatments of flushed cobblestone in the center lines and edge lines of the roadways.
“What that does is, without physically reducing the width of the roadway, texturally and visually it reduces the area and notifies you you’re entering a downtown area,” said Slonus. “It causes you to slow naturally.”
Sidewalks and Crosswalks
Sidewalks will have brick-colored pavers closer to the road that leads into concrete pavement closer to the buildings. Light posts and lighted bollards (short posts) will line the sidewalks and illuminate the walkway. Benches and trash receptacles will be periodically placed along sidewalks.
Decorative intersection and crosswalk treatments will be constructed. Visibility surrounding pedestrian crossings will be improved with rectangular rapid flashing beacons installed on the crosswalk signals.
Additionally, new traffic signals will be installed with reflective highlighted borders, also aiding drivers with visibility. New signs will be posted leading up to intersections to alert drivers of the geometry of the roads ahead.
Curbing along sidewalks will be slightly higher than it currently is to prevent illegal on-street parking. While drivers will no longer be able to park on curbs on the sides of the roads, the project plans include designated on-street parking spaces.
Town staff anticipates giving Weston and Sampson the OK to continue into the final design. The next step is a 90 percent design submission, which will be available late-September. Those plans then go before the Capital Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) for review. The final design will be submitted just after the New Year and will be reviewed by the state.
The project is anticipated to go out to bid mid-February of 2020, and begin construction in the spring.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.