Eastern Gateway Transportation Planning Study A Regional Multi-Modal Approach

10/13/2016

The towns of Bolton, Coventry, Mansfield, and Tolland and the University of Connecticut are partnering with the Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) to study the RTE 44 and 195 transportation corridors. These corridors have been identified as needing a comprehensive transportation plan that provide sustainable solutions to meet the current and future travel demand anticipated for the communities. Key considerations for the study include: enhancing safety, capacity, access management, connectivity, and multimodal options, while factoring in smart growth planning, fostering livable, economically sustainable communities, as well as complete streets. The study is being prepared with the consulting firm of Fitzgerald & Halliday, Inc. in association with WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff and Ninigret Partners.

The University of Connecticut in Storrs is a regional destination in eastern Connecticut. Towns that are directly adjacent to UCONN have experienced a variety of opportunities and influences that have come about with the recent growth which has occurred on campus and in close proximity to it. As investment continues in higher education, research, and technology at the University, there are new opportunities for economic development in the surrounding towns. This associated growth is likely to occur along the RTE 44 and 195 corridors, where the towns have experienced and planned for development over time. Travel demand pressure is expected to increase over time with the development of UCONN’s STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Math) education and research enterprise through the Next Generation Connecticut initiative.

These two-lane State roadways serve local traffic needs as well as pass-through traffic and possess existing commercial development that are significant in the respective communities. The presence of National Register Historic Districts, individual historic structures and other resources, significant natural resource features, unique scenic vistas, agricultural uses combined with a strong rural character provide multiple layers of challenge to develop a cohesive plan that respects these components.

A Technical Advisory Committee consisting of municipal staff from each town, representatives from UCONN, as well as special interest groups will help guide the overall process of the plan development. Representatives from CRCOG and the Connecticut Department of Transportation attend the Committee meetings but are not members of the Committee.

One of the initial steps of the study was to develop a Public Involvement Plan in order to create an outline on the manner in which public input and opinion was to be gained and incorporated into the study. Public involvement has taken a number of forms in order to gain a diverse background of feedback. ‘Pop up’ sessions were conducted at various community events during the past summer to have one-on-one interactive conversations. Public informational meetings in the corridor towns are being scheduled for late November/early December. A study website (http://www.cteasterngateways.com) has been launched that serves as a clearinghouse of information with the ability to sign up for regular newsletter updates. Check the website regularly for updates for specific meeting dates.

In September, a draft Existing Conditions Technical Memorandum was prepared and shared with the corridor towns. The towns have all responded to the request for revisions to the draft and the document is in the process of being updated. The next step in the study is to examine how future local and regional growth and land use assumptions will affect the transportation system. The outcomes will be evaluated with respect to quality of life considerations for the corridor.

The member towns of the corridor are grateful for having the opportunity to work collaboratively with the various stakeholders involved to develop a long range transportation planning vision for the RTE 44 and 195 corridors. This task also has the potential to serve as a springboard for other cooperative economic development ventures between the corridor towns. For example, the towns of Bolton and Coventry recently held an economic development workshop with the CT Economic Resource Center where volunteer members of the respective Economic Development Commissions, Planning and Zoning Commissions, Water Pollution Control Authorities, Board of Selectmen, Town Council and Town Staff gathered to discuss common ground issues involving the towns and region.

SUBMITTED BY: Eric M. Trott, Coventry Director of Planning and Development


10/13/2016
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