The Eastwood Roadway project, one part of the Mansfield Tomorrow project, is set to begin construction during the summer of 2018 after receiving input from residents, according to project engineer Timothy Veillette.
Veillette said the construction is estimated to cost $380,000, with the full amount being funded through the state Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program (LOTCIP). He said he was surprised because the grants normally split the cost between the state and town by an 80/20 ratio.
Eastwood Road was chosen due to the high volume of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, Veillette said. Westwood Road would have been much more expensive and twice the length, and the current project already maxed out the state grant, according to Veillette.
Aside from residents of Eastwood Road, residents of Knollwood apartments, Brookside Lane, and Maple Road will also have convenient access to sidewalk, Veillette said. Currently, pedestrians walk on the side of the road, and a sidewalk would improve the safety of those pedestrians, he said.
“We’re trying to make it safer,” Veillette said.
The sidewalk will be on the west side of the road, five feet wide and span approximately 1,200 feet down the road, according to Veillette. The sidewalk will connect into the crosswalk on Route 275 and end at the crosswalk at Hillside Circle, he said.
Additionally, the width of traffic lanes will be reduced to 11 feet, which Veillette said reduces the impact of the walkway on the residential properties and is a “means of traffic calming.”
Traffic calming, or the slowing of traffic, was a concern expressed by several residents in attendance of the meeting, including the University of Connecticut’s women’s ice hockey coach Chris Mackenzie.
“It’s long overdue. From a safety concern, (the sidewalk is) imperative,” Mackenzie said. “It’s needed for the students and anyone who uses Eastwood or Westwood can now use this sidewalk,”
According to Veillette, the sidewalk will also have beam rail to separate pedestrians from traffic.
Additionally, Director of Public Works John Carrington said there would be mountable curbs so cars can park on the road.
Construction for the new sidewalks will begin after UConn graduation in May, when the traffic is reduced due to students leaving, and will be completed by the fall semester of 2018, according to Veillette. During construction, there will be alternate one-way traffic, with specific periods of time when the road will be closed to everyone except residents, Veillette said.
New drainage will also be put in because the current drainage pipes are “too small” and “very old,” Veillette said. He also said every house will get a new driveway entrance when the sidewalk is being constructed.
Carrington said the town would be responsible for plowing both the road and the sidewalk during the winter, though the road would take precedence.
“I was very pleased with the turnout,” Carrington said of the meeting to discuss the project. “I thought everybody had a chance to speak and voice their opinions.”
Elizabeth Holzer, a resident of Eastwood Road, said she often walks with her young daughter along the road to daycare. She said she’s thrilled the town is finally making the sidewalk.
“I’m delighted,” Holzer said. “To be able to not be constantly worried about distracted drivers I think is going to make for not just a much safer, but also so much more enjoyable daily walk.”
Shelby Haydu is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.