TORRINGTON — Prospect Street, which runs parallel with Main Street, is getting a face-lift, and the public this week had a chance to hear about the plan during a Zoom forum.
Improvements include new sidewalks and bicycle lanes in wider areas of the roadway on the northern end near North Elm Street. The bumpy pavement and sidewalks that have been patched and repaired repeatedly over the past 10 years will be replaced, along with new granite curbing.
City Engineer Paul Kundzins led the forum Thursday night to share the project with residents and get their input, while detailing the changes planned for the busy secondary road. He was joined by City Planner Martin Connor, Economic Development Director Rista Malanca and engineers from Milhone and McBroom, who developed the design.
“We’re getting the project ready for bid, and based on the feedback we get from you, we can tweak the design before going out for those bids,” Kundzins said. “We want to get bids as soon as possible, either later this year or early next year, with the anticipation of getting the money awarded as soon as possible.”
The money, Kundzins said, will include $1 million from the state under the Department of Transportation’s Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program, and about $1 million from the city.
“We’ve gone through many upgrades to Prospect Street — new gas lines in 2016, drainage upgrades in 2017 and the water mains upgraded in 2017,” Kundzins said. “So we’re good to go — that’s why we waited so long to rebuild the road.”
The city will remove all asphalt paving, curbing, sidewalks and driveway aprons, and replace with new asphalt and concrete sidewalks, driveway areas and curbing. Dedicated bicycle lanes will begin from the Pearl Street intersection, where there is a traffic light, and continue to the end of Prospect Street at North Elm Street.
The bicycle lanes are an “exciting” addition to the roadway, Kundzins said. “We’re excited to be able to do this, and it should make a nice connection for bicycles to the downtown,” he said.
Engineer Marc Mancini showed slides of Prospect Street to the 20-plus people who attended the Zoom meeting. His pictures reflected the deteriorating pavement and sidewalks along the street.
Prospect Street’s southern end is home to the Northwest Connecticut YMCA, Vogel-Wetmore School, several churches and St. John Paul the Great Academy, formerly known as St. Peter St. Francis School. Metered parking is provided to the Pearl Street intersection.
Past Pearl Street, no street parking is permitted. “The road is wider, so we can add dedicated bike lanes that will continue to North Elm,” Mancini said. “The sidewalk is being eliminated on one side for the bike lane, and we’re leaving sidewalk on the other side for continuity.”
“There should be more ‘no parking’ signs than there are already,” Kundzins said. “So in that case, the bike lane will work well.”
Gwen Burgess, speaking on behalf of St. John Paul the Great Academy, asked whether the two parking meters in front of the school could be removed. “We don’t use them at the school. ... And people tend to make those two metered spaces into three, by the way they park,” Burgess said.
The project is expected to begin next spring, and several people asked what end would be done first — the northern or southern end.
“Doing construction when school is in session will be problem,” said resident Greg Brisco, referring to Vogel-Wetmore and St. John Paul the Great Academy.
Resident Keith Zwart, who lives on Prospect Street, asked whether more traffic lights were being considered, noting that speeding was a problem. Kundzins said adding traffic lights usually required more volume than Prospect Street’s traffic.
“There won’t be as wide of a travel lane once striping and a bike lane are put in,” Mancini said. “It could be a low-cost solution to slowing people down.”
“I look forward to having a new road,” Zwart said.