PLAINVILLE — A loose timeline for the design and construction of a portion of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail through town is taking shape.
Scott Bushee, the state Department of Transportation’s project manager, presented the plan to the Town Council recently. He is recommending that the project be broken into three phases. The first would run from Town Line Road, where it would connect with a segment currently being designed in Southington, to Norton Park. The second extends from the trailhead on Northwest Avenue to a culvert under Route 72. The third phase would connect the first two via modifications to existing roads.
The first phase could start in the spring of 2022. Phase two construction would start the following year and phase three in 2024.
“Those are just tentative dates for now. We’ll have to see how the environmental permitting comes up, we’ll have to see what suggestions are made, things we have to look at,” Bushee said.
With sections in Southington and New Haven currently being designed or constructed, Plainville remained the final gap on the trail in Connecticut, which runs from New Haven to Northampton, Massachusetts.
The plans were met with a mixed response from members of the public at the recent council meeting. Supporters said it will bring a healthy transportation and recreation amenity to the town and opponents worried about the impact on property values and public safety.
Linda Ferguson was part of a contingent of Perron Road residents who said the trail, as it is currently designed, would intrude on their neighborhood.
“I don’t see anybody standing up here and saying ‘please change the alignment and make it in my backyard,’ ” she said. “We live on a dead end road, we bought because it was a dead end road.”
“I actually would love it in my backyard ... so I could jump on the trail and jump off,” said Johanna Chapman, adding that she believes a compromise can be found.
Bushee noted that the recently completed 0.8-mile portion of the trail in Cheshire includes signs about the historical aspects of the trail. As the project manager for the Cheshire segment as well, Bushee said he believes the success of that project bodes well for the future of the trail in Plainville.
“You have bicycle usage, people walking and people on scooters ... there’s been people with baby carriages jogging on it, families, kids with bikes,” Bushee said. “So this is your trail user, quite a diversity.”