Plantsville renovation plans near complete, set for summer start

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Final plans for the Plantsville renovation will soon be complete, according to officials.

“We are expecting the 90% plans from the consultant next week,” said public works director Keith Hayden on Thursday, Feb. 6. “The current schedule calls for construction to begin early summer 2020.”

The project is being designed by Weston & Sampson engineering and design company. The plans were drawn largely based on community feedback after the public works committee held several public informational sessions leading up to this point, inviting businesses and individuals to express their concerns, wants and needs.

“The 90% plans will be complete subject to the design review comments from the Department of Transportation and the Capitol Region Council of Governments,” said Hayden. “The public was offered the opportunity to review and comment on the plans during the public informational meeting that was held at the 30% design stage.”

The cost of the renovation project is completely covered by a grant from the state’s local transportation capital improvement program (LOTCIP). It is estimated at $2,497,000.

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“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 at an informational session back in August 2019. “The state pays for the construction of the project, and the town pays for the design.”

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.

Drivers have limited sightlines coming out of side streets in the current layout of downtown Plantsville. sightlines are also limited on route 10 approaching South Main Street. Part of the renovation is to shift West Main Street more to the east and be “T-ed up” with Summer Street. The linear trail head will be shifted east, so it will no longer cross directly in front of Summer Street.

In addition, the trail head and Summer Street will be realigned to improve pedestrian crossing and visibility.

Roads will be treated to calm traffic, and on-street parking will be added. Sidewalks will also be re-paved, and intersection crosswalks will be treated, adding to the visibility of crossing pedestrians. In addition, traffic signals will be installed with reflective highlighted borders, and new traffic signs will alert drivers of the geometry of the roads ahead.

One of the goals of the project is to maintain Plantsville’s unique charm while also bringing it up to code and improving the safety aspects for drivers, pedestrians, bikers, and businesses in the area. Much like downtown Southington, it is a popular place to stroll and shop, and is right off the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail.

“It can be a hard design to do, to maintain the integrity and the uniqueness of downtown Plantsville while also modernizing it and bringing it up to today’s standards,” said town council chair Victoria Triano. “We want to keep that home-town feel and village charm.”

Triano said everything is “on track and moving forward beautifully.”

“It’s going very well,” she said. “We will hear from the department soon as to the actual design, and we are very excited to see it. It will be excellent once this project is complete.”

The construction phase of the project will likely be in two phases: one in the summer and fall of 2020 and another in the spring and summer of 2021. The public can view plans for the project by visiting the town’s engineering office in the lower level of the municipal center at 196 North Main St., Southington.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at News@SouthingtonObserver.com.