MERIDEN — The state has awarded the city a $600,000 grant to complete what city officials have described as a “critical piece of the Harbor Brook Linear Trail system.”
The grant is among a total $5 million in funding to 10 towns and cities, Gov. Ned Lamont announced Thursday afternoon. The grants are funded through Connecticut’s Community Connectivity Grant Program, administered by the state Department of Transportation.
Meriden’s project involves redesigning the stretch of Coe Avenue between Bradley Avenue and Hanover Street. In the city’s application for the grant, city officials described existing conditions that include “fair to poor asphalt sidewalk and areas of significant sidewalk damage. Curb reveals are minimal and there are no bicycle accommodations.”
Officials also noted the area, near Platt High School, Lincoln Middle School and Wilcox Technical High School, sees a significant number of students walking in the road, along with a “significant number of students being driven to the schools due to the inadequate sidewalk and bicycle network.”
So the project aims to improve those conditions by installing a 10-foot wide multi-use trail that would be near a reconstructed Coe Avenue. The project also would replace the current traffic light at Coe Avenue and Hanover Street, with a new light that includes a fully actuated pedestrian crossing signal, according to a description of the plans.
City officials stated in their application the project will “improve the non-motorized access for school children, encourage active transportation and reduce traffic congestion at the schools.” Officials hope in the future the project would encourage other commuters to bike or walk to work or to access public transportation.
Meriden Public Works Director Howard Weissberg said design for the project is about 95% complete.
“We have an intersection that is not as user friendly as it could be,” Weissberg said. “It has some high speeds.”
He added, “This essentially cleans up the intersection and makes it more acceptable for pedestrians to use. It makes it safer from a speeding perspective and helps connect the trail network.”
The Community Connectivity Grant Program provides funding for “local initiatives that will improve safety and accessibility for bicyclists and pedestrians in and around community centers, encouraging more people to use these healthy and environmentally sustainable modes of travel,” according to the announcement from Lamont’s office.
The ultimate goal of the city’s Linear Trail project, Weissberg said, is to create a pedestrian and bicycle friendly transportation network that runs from the Cheshire town line to downtown Meriden. Then it would connect from downtown to Middletown.