20 Aug 2014
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Llodra Encourages Sidewalks, Safeguards at Route 302 Bridge

The First Selectmen asked residents to attend a February public hearing on a proposed state-funded bridge replacement near the Route 302 / Main St. intersection.

Llodra Encourages Sidewalks, Safeguards at Route 302 Bridge
First Selectman Pat Llodra has asked Newtown residents to attend a ConnDOT hearing on replacing a small bridge on Route 302, saying the state-funded project is an opportunity to continue a town mission to make Newtown a more walkable place.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation has scheduled a public information meeting for Feb. 11 to hear discussion on replacing “Bridge #03271,” the small bridge between Ram Pasture and the police department on Route 302 near the intersection with South Main St.

“This is the opportunity we have to say to the state of Connecticut: If you’re going to widen that road, let’s put in sidewalks,” Llodra said at a Board of Selectman meeting last week. "We’re trying to incur sidewalk development for every project we do, so it’s appropriate for us to ask the state to add sidewalks. We’ll miss the opportunity if they don’t do it — it’s a state road, so it’s unlikely we’ll ever have the opportunity ourselves.”

For years, officials have hoped to bring more sidewalks to town. The 2014-15 Capital Improvement Plan includes $1.4 million in construction and maintenance for the town’s sidewalks over the next five years. The most ambitious project is a planned sidewalk loop extending from Church Hill Road down Main Street and up Wasserman Way, which would pass near the bridge.

About 8,800 vehicles cross the Route 302 bridge per day, according to ConnDOT figures. The proposal would result in about 450 feet of roadway construction, including a left-turn lane from Route 302 to Main St. The current 28-foot-wide bridge is considered structurally deficient due to poor condition and is functionally obsolete due to insufficient bridge deck width, according to a town notice.

The town is also asking for a way to safeguard three power poles on the south side of the road. The poles carry the conduit for the two major transmission systems that power all of the downtown area. One serious accident would wipe out the power for most of the downtown Newtown area, Llodra said. She suggested the grid either be buried or a guard rail put up to protect the poles.

"If the DOT does not hear our voice, these things won’t happen,” Llodra said. "We’ve missed the opportunity with other projects in the past. If nobody shows up and says, ‘This is what we need,' I can tell you it won’t happen.”

Federal and state funds would pay for the project, which would begin in 2015. The bridge would be replaced in three stages, leaving two lanes open during construction.

The meeting is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Feb. 11 at the Newtown Municipal Center.

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