Draft of trail plan available; public hearing Monday

By TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER

STAFF WRITER

As of Thursday, Jan. 11, the draft of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail multi-use trail that will go through Plainville was made available on the Gap Closure Study website, gapclosurestudy.com

In the 86 page long draft, proposed path, “Alignment C” is described and there are maps provided to view what roads and areas will be on the path. The Introduction to Alignment C reads, “the preferred alignment is a 5.3-mile multi-use trail extending from Northwest Drive to Town Line Road in Plainville. Nearly the entire length of the preferred alignment consists of off-road multi-use trails.”

The need to make the trail mostly off-road is one of the many reasons why this alignment choice was made. The study reads that through an online study that had 328 respondents, “more than 80 percent of respondents” stated that “they would be ‘definitely’ willing to us an off-road, multi-use path.” Also, this alignment “minimized right-of-way and environmental concerns by using Town- or State-owned property wherever possible.”

The draft also offers four potential funding sources; the Transportation Alternatives Program (TA), Let’s Go CT!, Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program (LOTCIP), or town funding. It is important to note that the study says “funding sources will be determined as the project moves into the design phase.”

TA relies heavily on state funding, and is a program of the Federal Highway Administration that offers funding for pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and recreational trails. “These FHWA funds are 80 percent federal and 20 percent State/Local matching funds” and these funds can be used for the design phase or for construction, reads the study.

Let’s Go CT! is a state funded program created by the Connecticut Department of Transportation and would provide “100 percent of the cost of design and construction through state funding.”

LOTCIP “would require a partnership with the Town of Plainville and CRCOG (Capital Region Council of Governments). Design funding would need to be generated at the local level, and construction funding would come from the DOT.” Plainville could apply to CRCOG for 100 percent of construction costs under this program. “The program would likely require the town to lead design, right of way acquisition, environmental permitting, and provide quality controls during construction.”

Town funding would be applied to maintenance of the trail, “because most of the trail would be owned by the town.” This would be put into place to ensure continuity throughout the FCHT, and would include “seasonal leaf removal, and bridge and tunnel inspections and repairs.”

There is a public hearing scheduled for Monday, Feb. 5, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Middle School of Plainville.

Comments? Email tmurchison@BristolObserver.com.