Planning resumes to close trail gap

By LISA CAPOBIANCO

STAFF WRITER

After being put on hold temporarily, public outreach for the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail Gap Closure study is returning in full swing this spring.

Last year, the Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) began a study to find possible routes that would connect the trail with Plainville, New Britain, Southington, and the CTfastrak station in New Britain through a world-class multi-use trail network.

As the result of several public meetings held last year, 14 possible route options were suggested for closing Plainville’s gap in the trail, some of which had common elements with each other, said Town Manager Robert Lee during a recent Town Council meeting.

Known as one of the most historic greenways in New England, the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail is an 84-mile multi-use trail that stretches from New Haven to Northampton, Mass. But there is a gap in Plainville that marks the last gap statewide that is currently not under design or construction—due to an active rail line.

During the winter months, planning for the study took a slight delay, as the Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT) was investigating options related to the trail, said Tim Malone, the principal planner of CRCOG. At the time, the DOT was working with the railroad in Plainville (Pan-Am) for a possible resolution that would have allowed parts of the trail to be located within the rail right of way.

However, this is not an option for the study team right now.

“They [DOT] wanted to thoroughly vet some options before we went forward,” said Malone. “We’re not assuming we can use the rail line. Right now we’re going to assume it’s just not