SOUTHINGTON — The town expects more than $300,000 from the state for a reconfiguration of the Curtiss Street, Hart Street and Farmington Canal Heritage Trail intersection.
Announcement of the money was a “pleasant surprise” to Public Works Director Keith Hayden, who said a previous grant application had been delayed due to the state’s financial problems.
“We didn’t know if it was coming through or not. When we got the letter, that was news to us,” he said Tuesday.
Work is almost entirely complete at the intersection. Hayden said the reconfiguration was urgent since more and more people were using the trail after the completion of the northern portion. Pedestrian crossing is now more clearly marked and is now located at an intersection with stop signs.
Hayden said the new intersection, designed by town engineers, was much safer than the old configuration.
“I see tons of people using it. It was a good project,” he said.
Southington’s funding is part of a $12.4 million spending package to increase safety throughout the state for pedestrians and cyclists. The funds were announced this week by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the state Department of Transportation.
“Modernizing and updating our transportation infrastructure — including making accessible neighborhoods for pedestrians and bicyclists — is critical if we
want to have thriving towns where families want to live, businesses can flourish, and communities succeed,” Malloy said in a statement Monday.
Normally state grants are awarded before a project is underway. Town officials explained to the state that they couldn’t wait on the project. Waiting for the money to come through would have meant work wouldn’t even have started until next summer, according to Hayden.
State officials are writing the grant to allow it to fund a project that’s already complete. Hayden said the $314,339.21 – when awarded – will completely pay for the construction. Money was saved by having it designed in-house.
The road realignment could also reduce accidents at the intersection. One house has been hit by cars six times, according to the owners, Charles and Cynthia Chapman. The latest was in 2014 when a car crashed into the front porch and door.
Guide rails protect the trail crossing from the road, Hayden said. Some of those rails also block traffic from nearby homes.