By TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER
The Department of Transportation, in partnership with the West End Association, hosted a public information session regarding the possible realignment of Route 72.
Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu started the evening by asking those gathered to keep a few things in mind during the presentation of the two proposed projects. She also reminded people that these projects came out of the West End Planning study that was complete about five or six years ago.
“But most importantly, I want you think about these projects, actually, both of them, globally, because not only is it critical to this neighborhood mass, but think about it in terms of transportation, think about it in terms of gateways, and think about it in terms of really starting to pull together some of these pieces,” said Zoppo-Sassu.
The mayor asked those gathered to remember that downtown won’t truly be able to be restored to what it once was, but there is still potential for something ahead of us.
“It’s about connecting all of these dots so that downtown is once again something. And we know that we can’t go back to the pre urban renewal period before the flood, when there was a vibrant downtown where you could shop and eat and you could walk down Main Street, and you could see your friends,” said Zoppo-Sassu. “But, it can still be something else, with its own identity, for this next millennium, and I really think strongly that all of these neighborhood groups; you, and the Federal Hill Association, and all of the people that spend time, served as commissioners on volunteer boards for our land use, they’re all interested in that same goal. So, try to separate too, the nostalgia piece and think about the “what ifs”.”
The two projects, 17-187 and 17-171, confront Route 72 at two points. Project 17-187 tackles the Route 72 and Route 69 intersection, where Divinity, Park, and West streets, join. The DOT hopes to realign the intersection of Blakeslee Street, Riverside Avenue, Memorial Boulevard, and Downs Street, which makes up project 171, explained project manager, Michael Cherpak. He also said they would discuss a “concept for a realignment of Route 72 and North Main Street.”
Cherpak said the DOT expects to finish their designs for the project in December 2020, that they project should begin in the summer of 2021, and would be finished some time in 2022. But, the DOT requires your feedback regarding what the citizens of Bristol envision the new Route 72 to be.
City engineer Raymond Rogozinski has additional comment cards in his office in City Hall. He said all comment cards brought to his office could be passed along to Cherpak and his team at the DOT.