Main Street meeting in ‘the annex’ tonight

State plans to smooth and calm traffic flow on Main Street while adding pedestrian-friendly amenities will be outlined and explained by state planners this evening.

A state Department of Transportation (DOT) public information meeting is scheduled tonight, Thursday, March 22, in the town hall annex. An “open forum for individual discussion with department officials” starts at 6:30 p.m., with a “design presentation” at 7.

The project would realign the CVS driveway with Prospect Street, add left-turn lanes at Prospect, Catoonah Street and Bailey Avenue, and create planted “bump-outs” to shorten crosswalk distances.

Plans call for eight tree replacements — four required by the design, and four because they’re in bad condition. Another seven trees are “recommended for replacement” due to their condition.

The 54 parking spaces along Main Street would be reduced to 53.

Skeptics have written letters to The Press.

“A plan for Main Street should be focused on the safety and pleasure of homeowners, residents, visitors and more, the beauty of the street, the success of our Central Business District,” said Wayne Addessi, Main Street landlord and retailer, urging people to attend.

Architects Sean O’Kane and Elizabeth DiSalvo and designer Helen Dimos raised similar concerns.

“Firstly, it is foremost a traffic plan designed to move vehicles quickly through our historic town center,” they wrote. “We believe that the primary focus of any Main Street improvements should be on the safety and pleasure of pedestrians and shoppers and the success of local businesses.”

State planners have been working on the project for a few years, and initial meetings drew such crowds that a smaller committee was appointed to work with the state.

The project has been cut back from early alternatives that state designers presented, according to First Selectman Rudy Marconi.

“It’s pretty basic,” Marconi said. “According to the DOT, they look at it as a basic ‘mill and pave’ job, with some bump-outs at crosswalks to shorten the distance a person has to be in the highway — green areas.”

The $3.15-million cost would be 80% federal money, 20% state, and none from the town.

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

Plans may be viewed at town hall.