PLAINVILLE, CT MULTI-USE TRAIL DESIGN STUDY - REPORT SUMMARY - JANUARY 2010
In November 2009, a Preliminary Design Study for the Multi Use trail through Plainville was completed by the trail design/engineering firm of Milone & MacBroom. Initially they explored various routes suggested by local bicycle advocates and the Regional Planning Agency, including the ideal of the trail alongside active rail for almost the entire length of the town (3 miles). The conclusion from this exploration was that the existing railroad right-of-way was unsuitable for a rail-with-trail from the town Center south due to many encroachment and drainage problems. They examined other proposed routes, suggesting a few of their own after soliciting input from town residents at several public forums. What emerged as the most likely route has some very interesting components.
The North and South Sections are envisioned as a combination of off-road trails and on-road routes utilizing low-volume, low-speed neighborhood streets. The Center Section will be completely on-road but utilize higher-volume, higher-speed local and state roads. A more detailed description follows:
• North Section (1 mile): a mostly bucolic route on the (hopefully) soon-to-be-abandoned railroad right-of-way and alongside the Town’s regional airport and nature park to the existing railroad bridge over a small river. From there the trail passes the local water treatment facility on a wide and little used road from which a trail could easily be separated. This section is considered fairly easy to accomplish and has been designated Phase 1.
• Center Section (about 2.5 miles): this portion traverses both residential neighborhoods and the commercial center of the town and utilizes state and local roads through several intersections busy with mostly local motorists. It passes the Historic Center and utilizes a wide thoroughfare aptly named Broad St. and other streets leading to the major town park. This section is considered to be the most difficult to accomplish and has been designated Phase 3.
• South Section (1 mile) : the trail through Norton Park could be adjacent to the restored section of the old Farmington Canal that preceded the railroad as a major north-south transportation corridor from New Haven to Northampton. Upon exiting the park, the trail could wind along open space across undeveloped farmland and through a local light industrial park, depending upon the route finally chosen. This section has been designated Phase 2.
The total length of the trail is about 4.5 miles, depending upon the final route chosen, about half of which is proposed to be along major state and town arterial roads. This will present a unique challenge for our route that the other 15 towns along the New Haven to Northampton trail (known officially as the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail) did not face. These roads must be designated as “bicycle friendly” as a result of improvements such as: traffic calming; installation of signs and pavement markings; education of all road users, both motorists and cyclists, about the proper use of “bicycle friendly” roads; and intersection modifications. The effort required to bring about such a designation for these roads will be significant and must involve initiative from Plainville as well as strong support from every town along the route. Basically, as this effort goes, so goes the successful completion of the continuous 82 mile Farmington Canal Heritage Trail. Coincidentally, this is also true for the 200 mile Connecticut section of the East Coast Greenway, an ambitious 3,000 mile long, mostly off-road route from Maine to Florida.
Utilizing cost data provided by the Master Plan Report, the costs for Phase 1 can be interpolated to be about $2 million, including $150K for design and engineering. The cost for a bridge over Northwest Drive to connect with the trail atop an historic stone arch bridge just over the town line is not included in the report, but can be conservatively estimated at about $500,000. The costs for future phases are too difficult to predict at this time. In fact, there is the likelihood that if funding for final design and engineering for Phase 1 can be found quickly, this phase could be competitively bid during a period when construction companies are eagerly seeking work and bid results can be quite favorable to the Town, as was the case recently with the next phase of another portion of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail. There, the designer’s estimate of construction cost was $2.6 million, with all bids beneath that estimate with the lowest bid at $1.4 million.
Our next steps will be to meet with State and Federal legislators and funding agencies to seek the $150,000 needed for final design and engineering for Phase 1, and to begin building the support necessary for the designation as “bicycle friendly” for the on-road portions of the trail. We have far to go, but the journey has begun and we will not rest until we arrive at completion of this jewel of a trail.
For a look at the full report, go to: http://www.plainvillect.com/Downloads/2009-11-24-MasterPlanReport-12-02-2009.pdf