Eastern Gateways Study presents findings, receives Mansfield community's input

Representatives from the Eastern Gateways Study speak to an audience in the Mansfield Town Council Chamber about potential transportation improvements to the surrounding areas on Thursday, December 8, 2016. (Owen Bonaventura/The Daily Campus)

Leaders of the Eastern Gateways Study—a study which is currently examining future land use, transportation and economic development opportunities in several Connecticut towns along segments of Routes 195 and 44—presented their initial findings and asked for the greater Mansfield community’s input on the study during a public information meeting at Mansfield Town Hall on Thursday evening.

According to Fitzgerald & Halliday, Inc. vice president of operations principal Carla D. Tillery, the study includes the “Eastern Gateways” area of Bolton, Coventry, Tolland and Mansfield, Connecticut, as well as the University of Connecticut, and scrutinizes 14 miles of Route 195 and ten miles of Route 44.

The study began in January 2016 and will be completed in June 2017, Tillery said.

“We’re looking at the existing conditions and what land use, transportation and economic development will look like in this area for the next 20 years or so,” Tillery said. “We want to support each towns’ development goals and consider UConn’s growth’s impact on them.”

To date, the study has discovered that biking is prevalent in the eastern gateways area, Fitzgerald & Halliday, Inc. senior community planner and designer Mary Miltimore said.

“One thing we found is how strong the bicycle culture is in all the communities,” Miltimore said. “So [the study] will next look at bicycling not only as recreational, with trails and things like that, but as transportation.”

According to Miltimore, the study also uncovered public transportation issues in the eastern gateways area.

“UConn transportation services are offered not just to students but the entire community. We’ve heard they’re limited in terms of the times they operate and don’t always offer evening services and into weekend,” Miltimore said. “We should we be focusing on the limits in services and thinking about expanding transit along Route 44.”

Tillery said the study’s leaders collaborated with a technical advisory committee.

“There is a technical advisory committee, which is a group of participants we’ve asked for help with the study,” Tillery said. “There are three members from each town. They’ve played a significant role in helping us move the project forward with data, knowledge and their expertise about their communities.”

A substantial amount of public outreach contributed to the study as well, according to Tillery.

“People at the public events we attended wanted to improve bicycle facilities, reduce congestion, increase parking options in walkable areas, improve safety, increase transit options and improve pedestrian amenities about equally,” Tillery said.

Meeting attendees from the greater Mansfield community discussed the study’s findings with its leaders at the meeting’s conclusion.

“It’s tricky to get people out at this stage where there aren’t concrete recommendations yet,” said study manager and Capital Region Council of Governments principal transportation planner Cara S. Radzins. “I’m encouraged by the feedback so far.”

Radzins said the study’s leaders will have a better idea of how to fix the problems which the study has so far identified in the near future, after considering the comments received at public meetings that have recently been held throughout the eastern gateways area.

“In the spring, we’ll have the answer to “How do we fix it?,” Radzins said.

Further information regarding the Eastern Gateways Study may be found on their website.


Alexandra Retter is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at alexandra.retter@uconn.edu.