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The project will fix Main Street's deteriorating roads and brick crosswalks, address issues with settling and drainage (shown here), and more. Pam Johnson/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
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Back in 2017, Branford's citizens were debating the controversial merits of a roundabout on Main Street. The proposed design would have reorganized intersections at the four corners of Main, South Main, Laurel, and Eades streets into an oval roundabout at the western end of the Town Green. The project would also carve away some of the town green (most notably, a corner tip at the top of South Main St.) among other changes to the area.
On Feb. 12, that debate ended. With a unanimous vote, the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) approved the Board of Finance's recommendation to provide temporary funding of $2,750,000 for a reimbursable project to improve and rebuild (without any changes to current layout) worn roadway infrastructure in the downtown Main Street area.
Through Branford's affiliation with the South Central Regional Council of Governments (COG), the projected cost, except for some $250,000 in design planning, will be reimbursed through the Local Transportation Capital Program (LOTCIP). Connecticut's Dept. of Transporation (DOT) established LOTCIP to provide state funding, in addition to any qualifying federal funding, to municipalities for transportation improvements to state or locally-maintained roadways (or buildings) deemed eligible.
The proposed roundabout was also approved for approximately $3 million in funding arranged by COG through LOTCIP. Over time, the proposal, which took into consideration the state DOT's push to install roundabouts at intersection improvements with state roads (South Main Street is also a part of state route 146) has grown to a cost of $5.5 million; and away from the Town's intent to improve the Main Street area while also creating a better connection with the town center and town green, said Cosgrove.
"Our initial intention was to really connect the center around the green and the four-corner section. And while the roundabout may have been safe for vehicular and pedestrian crossing; just the size of it, and the vehicles never stopping, I think would give a perception of almost a barrier to connecting," said Cosgrove, speaking to Zip06/The Sound immediately following the RTM vote on Feb. 12.
The newly-approved improvement project is expected to stretch from the intersection of Main Street and South Main Street to Main Street at Chestnut Street. And, while the work to upgrade the current area's roadway infrastructure won't be of the same complexity as installing a roundabout, "...this isn't just a simple mill and pave," Cosgrove noted. "When you use this [LOTCIP] money, you're using it to reconstruct the road to [withstand] 20 years of use."
As part of the project's road resurfacing, workers will be unearthing and removing old trolley tracks (some of which are currently showing through pavement), reconstructing brick crosswalks, addressing settled transitions/drainage issues at all crosswalks, upgrading the Montowese/Main Street intersections to include assistance for the vision-impaired, and making other improvements.
Construction is anticipated to get underway next year. The project, once it begins, should start at the South Main Street/Main Street end, then head down Main Street to an intended terminus at the intersection of Main Street and Chestnut Street.
Cosgrove said he expects some inconveniences may be experienced as the work is being done, but the upgrades are necessary.
"Going down there, you see how quickly it's deteriorating, [and] we have to address the accessibility issue," he said. "We're going to work to try to minimize any inconvenience, but I think at the end, when it's all said and done, it's going to be an improvement to the town."
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