The grassroots activism to make our streets safer and more comfortable for walkers, bicyclists, wheelchair users, and users of public transit is the “complete streets” movement. Middletown, Portland, and Durham have Complete Streets groups working with their respective towns to achieve improvements that make our streets complete in that sense – suitable for all users.
Streets, after all, are by far the largest public spaces. They should not be just for moving motor vehicles, but for active transportation (meaning, by muscle power) and community gathering. When people are walking, they meet, speak, and achieve a sense of belonging. Here are some exciting news items.
With the support of Portland’s Complete Streets Group, the town was recently awarded a Connecticut Connectivity Grant of over $500,000 to add a sidewalk on Riverside Street. Below are the major points in favor of the improvements and the benefits that will result for community residents.
- The project will yield the greatest benefit to lower income residents of Chatham Court by providing a sidewalk leading to public transit access on Marlborough Street; the Middlesex Health Family Medicine clinic just across Marlborough Street; and existing sidewalks that lead to food shopping, pharmacies, convenience stores, the public library, Town Hall, and other businesses. Due to the high traffic count on Marlborough Street (approximately 21,000 vehicles per day in 2012), improved crossings of Marlborough Street are needed for safety.
- The proposed sidewalk improvements are located in the precise area where the Air Line Trail (multi-use) will intersect with Marlborough Street when the trail’s extension westward from its current terminus is completed. This means that the area in question will be the Town’s most pedestrian- and bike-friendly access point to the trail for residents living in the highest density part of the town.
The Jonah Center and Middletown’s Complete Streets Committee began recommending improvements to Saybrook Road near the Stop & Shop plaza in 2012. The project was embraced by the Public Works Department and funded entirely by a federal Transportation Alternatives Grant of $3.1 million to construct sidewalks, a pedestrian crossing, bike lanes on Saybrook Road, and improved sidewalk connections with intersecting streets. These bike-ped imrovements will be accomplished as part of a total road reconstruction between East Main Street and Tryon Street. The work is expected to begin this spring. More information on this project may be found here.
Survey work for the Newfield Corridor Trail has been completed in the 1 mile section between Mile Lane near Lawrence School and Tuttle Road, where it will connect with the Mattabesset Bike path.
Meriden’s Department of Public Works recently informed the Jonah Center that $108,000 has been earmarked by the South Central Region Council of Governments (SCRCOG) for a route study of the Central CT Loop Trail between Broad Street in Meriden to the Middletown city line on Westfield Street. This is the first state or federal funding that has been applied directly to the Central CT Loop Trail since the project was recognized by state legislation in 2019.
Durham’s Complete Streets Committee has developed exciting plans, as described in the following summary.
- Create a designated striped bike lane on both east and west sides of Main Street from Haddam Quarter Road south to Route 79 with the purpose of creating a safe section of this heavily used bicycle corridor between Middletown, Durham, Middlefield, Madison and Guilford for both recreational and commuting purposes.
- Complete sidewalks on the entire west and east side of Main Street from 147 south to the crosswalk above the Route 79/17 split for the purpose of enhancing pedestrian safety and accessibility as well as enhancing a vibrant Main Street economic zone.
- Enhance the walkability and safety of the pedestrian loop outlined in the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development that includes sections of Main Street, Haddam Quarter Rd., Brick Lane, Maiden Lane and Pickett Lane. Enhancements to include crosswalks, signage, road striping, and other safety enhancements on Maiden Lane and Pickett Lane.
- Enhance cycling connectivity between Durham and Middletown, Madison and Guilford.
While Durham’s 2021-22 fiscal year budget still has to be heard and discussed at a public hearing, the Complete Streets Committee’s request for funding of phases 1 and 2 is under consideration. The committee’s phase 3 plans include a bike route from Main Street, to Johnson Lane via Maiden Lane, thus connecting to the Middletown bike lanes along Millbrook Road!
Complete Streets Durham CT also began the discussion of looking into any possibility of connecting to the Central CT Loop Trail and working with the Jonah Center on that regional vision. They are also looking into the feasibility of coordinating the creation of a multi-use path or footpath from Peckham Field in Middlefield to the Durham Fairgrounds across Durham Meadows property from what used to be an old trolley rail line.