State plans for Main Street will be discussed Thursday

Turning lanes, planted bump-outs to calm traffic and aid pedestrians, eight or more trees replaced — Main Street, as state planners intend to remake it, will be presented to Ridgefielders this week.

A state Department of Transportation (DOT) public information meeting on the Main Street plans is scheduled for Thursday, March 22, in the school board room of the town hall annex. The DOT says “an open forum for individual discussion with department officials will begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by a design presentation at 7 p.m.”

The state describes the purpose of the roughly $3.15-million project as “traffic operational improvements on Main Street between Governor Street and Prospect Street.”

The plans involve relocating the CVS shopping center driveway so it is “normalized opposite of Prospect Street, where a dedicated left-turn into the driveway from Main Street is also proposed.”

There are also plans for “dedicated left-turn lanes” at the Catoonah Street and Bailey Avenue intersection.

The state says, “Various curb extension bump-outs are also proposed as traffic calming elements, as well as to provide pedestrian crossing improvements.”

These, First Selectman Rudy Marconi has said, are designed to shorten the crossing distance for pedestrians, making crossings safer.

Plans show planted “bump outs” on the east side of Main Street just north of Governor Street, on both sides of Main Street at its intersection with Catoonah Street and Bailey Avenue, and by the mid-block crosswalk between the Bailey-Catoonah intersection and the CVS-Prospect intersection.

The plan shows 53 parking spaces on Main Street, including a dozen diagonal spaces in front of the stores between St. Stephen’s Church and Catoonah Street. Currently there are 54 spaces, so there would be a loss of one.

The plan calls for replacing eight trees, though seven others are ”recommended for replacement” and some others are shown as due for further evaluation.

Of the eight trees listed for replacement, five are on the east side of Main Street: one mid-block between Governor Street and Bailey Avenue, three between Bailey Avenue and Prospect, and two north of Prospect, by the library.

On the west side of Main Street, two trees would be replaced, one in front of the CVS parking lot and one in front of Ballard Park.

Of the eight tree replacements, four would be to accommodate the design plans and four would be replaced “due to condition and not required by the design,” according to the state.

“Construction is anticipated to begin in the spring of 2019, based on availability of funding,” the state says.

The estimated $3.15-million cost would be 80% federal money and 20% state money, according to the state. No money would be required from the town.

The plans are available for view in town hall, at the first selectmen’s office, the DOT says.

“The public informational meeting is being held to afford a full opportunity for public participation and to allow open discussion of any views and comments the community may have concerning this proposed project,” the state says.