Main Street project is in plans for 2018
Work on Ridgefield’s Main Street is scheduled for next year, according to state transportation and air quality documents for the area that are up for public review.
A Transportation Improvement Program, or “TIP,” for the Housatonic Valley area lists 134 items — two of them in Ridgefield, both furthering the effort to improve Main Street traffic flow between Governor and Prospect streets.
The two items for the Main Street project — $140,000 for rights-of-way purchases, and $3,150,000 for construction — are both listed as scheduled for 2018.
First Selectman Rudy Marconi said the state’s listing of the Main Street project in its plans won’t circumvent an as-yet unscheduled local public hearing on the project.
“The problem is we haven’t even commenced the public hearing to look at the plans,” Marconi said. “So, this TIP approval is the process for keeping projects in the pipeline.”
The plans have been refined and scaled back from some earlier versions that roused Ridgefielders’ ever-vigilant instinct to keep Main Street looking the same.
“The project has pretty well been narrowed down to a mill-and-pave project with re-striping. Basically, the road is going to stay within the current curb-line as it exists today,” Marconi said.
“The major part of the project will be the realignment of the intersection at Prospect Street,” he added. “The current entrance to CVS will be moved north, closer to Ballard Park, in alignment with Prospect Street, which will improve the flow of traffic through that intersection.”
The state Department of Transportation (DOT) “anticipates holding a public hearing during the early fall” on the Main Street plan, said Charles Robbins, a Planning and Zoning Commission member who heads the working committee that has been giving the state local feedback, taking the plan through a series of concept drawings.
“The hearing will present Concept 5a, the concept that the working committee believes will best serve the interests of the community and downtown merchants, with the least intrusion as well as maintaining the character of Main Street,” Robbins said. “Concept 5a minimizes the loss of parking spaces (four). If Bailey Avenue adds parking spaces, the net loss will be zero.
“We also met with some of the property owners on Main Street to explain Concept 5a in order to obtain their buy in and further ideas,” Robbins said.
While the official state plan lists the Main Street project in 2018, Robbins expects it will take longer.
“Based upon current planning and DOT schedules, the project could potentially commence during the first half of 2019.”
Some other regional items in the state transportation improvement plan — work on Route 84, or Route 95 for instance — may be of local interest, though they are not right in town.
Marconi noted that the plan lists transportation improvements that aren’t road construction.
“There’s some money for the Route 7 LINC (bus service between Danbury and Norwalk, stopping along Route 7) which would benefit Ridgefield. There’s funding each year,” Marconi said.
Beyond money for the HART buses, other support for regional mass transit in the plan includes funds for maintenance and repairs along train tracks.
“There is money for the New Haven Line program,” Marconi said.
The Housatonic Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization 2018-2021 Transportation Improvement Program covers projects in Ridgefield and nine other towns: Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Redding and Sherman.
The draft transportation plan and “air quality conformity determinations” are available at the offices of the Western Connecticut Council of Governments, 1 Riverside Road in Sandy Hook, Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 4:30, or through the council’s website: westcog.org.
A public information meeting on the transportation plan is scheduled for Aug. 2, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the Western Connecticut Council offices in Sandy Hook.
The Housatonic Valley planning group will consider endorsing the plan at its Aug. 17 meeting.
“It is being circulated beforehand to ensure that community concerns are properly included,” a new release from the organization says.
A public comment period runs through noon on Aug. 7.
The Housatonic Valley organization is subordinate to the Western Connecticut Council of governments, which is one the several regional transportation planning agencies that report to the state.
The Housatonic Valley plan is part of Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP) that is done every four years. The statewide plan lists projects on the books at least four years out, with rough financial estimates. The document must “include a financial plan that demonstrates which projects can be implemented using current and anticipated revenue sources,” according to the state.
The air quality documents assert that the transportation improvement projects will, in the long run, work to improve air quality.
“These projects include numerous improvements to intersections, which will allow traffic to flow more efficiently, thus reducing delay, fuel usage and emissions,” the state document says.