PLAINVILLE — With the completion of a 0.8-mile strip of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail in Cheshire, attention has turned to the only remaining gap — a 5.3-mile section in town.
A trail route approved by the Town Council on Feb. 20 is awaiting state funding. Once funds are in place, the engineering phase will begin, including public outreach, surveys and designs.
“I’m thinking that our best estimate for the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail being completed in Connecticut is 2023,” said Bruce Donald, a coordinator with the East Coast Greenway Alliance.
People using the trail overcome the gap by following roads and sidewalks through town, which presents risks for users.
“It does take away from its glamour as a completed through trail,” Donald said.
The Department of Transportation’s project manager, Scott Bushee, said construction will likely be divided into two phases: a section from Town Line Road to Route 372, slated to start in 2022, and a section from Route 372 to Northwest Drive, expected to start after that.
The trail currently ends at Lazy Lane near the Plainville-Southington line.
Unlike most of the rest of the trail, the Plainville portion cannot use rail beds because the rail line in town is still being used.
The proposed trail route is 98 percent off road, but runs along pieces of Broad Street, Pierce Street and North Washington Street.
While public outreach could impact the final route, Bushee expects it will look similar to the one approved by the Town Council.
“I think the (route) that was developed in the planning study is generally what the trail is going to look like,” he said. “The town seems to be very supportive of the alignment.”
While the Town Council was unanimous in its approval of the route, public support was more mixed.
Many opposed the plan because it would pass close to some homes, raising concerns about noise, littering, safety and property values.