Housatonic Valley Rail Trail project heads toward fall approvals

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Many residents park at Cutlers Farm Road to walk, jog and ride their bicycles on the Housatonic Valley Rail Trail. Town officials plan to extend the trail by about 4,600 linear feet.

MONROE, CT — First Selectman Ken Kellogg told the Town Council he expects design work to be completed and regulatory approvals obtained by this fall for a project connecting the Housatonic Valley Rail Trail to the Pequonnock River Trail.

The project would complete sections two and three, by extending a 10-foot-wide stone dust trail by approximately 4,600 linear feet, creating an off-road connection from Maple Drive to Wolfe Park.

On Monday night, the Town Council unanimously voted to send the plan to the Planning and Zoning Commission for a municipal referral. The commission will review the proposal and issue a report in accordance with Connecticut General Statute 8-24.

Town Engineer Scott Schatzlein attended the meeting via GoToMeeting in case council members had questions, though no one did.

Kellogg said the trail would extend from the southerly side of an existing pedestrian bridge over the West Pequonnock River — just south of Maple Drive — going north to the public works facility.

The trail would continue across Purdy Hill Road and through portions of Wolfe Park, until it reaches the existing segment of trail at the north end of the park entrance drive off Purdy Hill Road.

The project includes installation of the trail, retaining walls, protective fencing, a mid-block crossing at Purdy Hill Road, tree removal to necessitate trail placement and enhancement landscape plantings, including trees, grass restoration and some directional and control signage.

Kellogg said the town entered into an agreement with Stantec Consulting Services Inc. last year for professional services, including design, environmental permitting and assisting the town with the bid phase for construction.

The total cost of the project is close to $1.8 million, but the first selectman said most of it will be covered by grants.

In 2016 the town was awarded a Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program (LoTCIP) grant for a multi-purpose trail project, committing nearly $1.5 million to fully fund construction costs.

Then in 2019, the town obtained another grant from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to cover 80 percent of design costs, leaving about $55,000 to be paid for by the town, according to Kellogg.

“The remaining costs were appropriated in the fiscal year 2020 budget and are being paid from our capital reserve funds for this project,” he said.

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