WALLINGFORD — Consultants drafting a study to improve walkability along Route 5 near the new train station are looking for input from residents and business owners.
Town Engineer Alison Kapushinski said two conceptual plans are coalescing in the study, which is aimed at improving accessibility for pedestrians and bikers along North Colony Street (Route 5) between Lee Avenue and Quinnipiac Street. The town is hosting a public hearing on the proposals on Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. in Room 315 at Town Hall.
Both plans include new crosswalks, sidewalk upgrades and concrete curb bump outs, which bulge the sidewalk into the roadway at an intersection or crosswalk to prevent motorists from driving too closely to cars parked on the side of the road. The second plan also includes eliminating on-street parking on the southbound side of North Colony to install bike lanes on both sides of the road.
Rachael Ceste, owner of Sweet Cioccolata, said she believes the bump outs could encourage more on-street parking outside her storefront on Route 5.
She’d like to see any walkability improvements made in conjunction with a push for more economic development along Route 5 to make it as attractive as the uptown area near Simpson Court. Without more retail opportunities, she doesn’t believe the train station will bring flocks of pedestrians to the area.
Economic Development Specialist Tim Ryan said there’s also interest in removing utility poles and moving the cables underground, which would open up the full width of the sidewalk and remove utility lines that cluster outside of second floor windows.
The town received a state grant of $175,000 for the study, which isn’t scheduled to be finished before March 20.
“There have been no conclusions drawn, this is just an opportunity for us to benefit from the new train station,” Ryan said. “ … We may conclude this whole thing by saying let's not do anything.”
Cindy Ruszczyk, owner of Cindy’s Unique Shop, applauded the idea of adding more crosswalks. While she doesn’t believe she’s had a lot of customers from the train station yet, she has noticed many live nearby and walk to the station.
Adding decorations, like the flower pots and flags that adorn Center Street, North Main Street and South Main Street would help, Ruszczyk said.
“If it was appealing to walk, more people would walk,” she said.