December 12, 2018 — The Town is actively pursuing additional state grants to make Weston safer and more pedestrian-friendly.
The most significant is an application for $1.5 million that would fund construction of a sidewalks network even larger than what is already planned from grants already approved. It would also provide much-needed traffic relief on Route 57 at the entrance to School Road.
First Selectman Chris Spaulding considers the application to be a bit of a long shot, but well worth pursuing. The Town’s portion of costs, for design, is estimated at $150,000.
On December 6th, the boards of Selectmen and Finance set aside that amount from reserves to demonstrate Weston’s ability to proceed with the project if the grant application is approved. If it is not, the funds will not be spent.
Most of the $1.5 million sought would improve the intersection at School Road, where accidents are frequent and traffic jams during school drop-off and pick-up have long been a source of frustration.
On the northbound Route 57 approach to School Road, a 150-foot right turn lane would be carved into part of the area used by the school bus depot. On the southbound side, a “bump out” would be created to relieve congestion so cars could safely pass when vehicles line up to turn left on School Road.
The traffic light at the intersection would be replaced at an estimated cost of $250 thousand, a sum Dr. Spaulding described as “far too expensive” for the town to bear without State funding.
The other part of the project would allow the Town to extend a network of sidewalks already funded.
In August, Weston was awarded $396 thousand by the Department of Transportation’s CT Community Connectivity program.
That grant allows the Town to build a network of sidewalks, partly concrete, partly gravel, to connect Town Hall, the Library, the Senior Center, the schools, the shopping center, and St. Francis of Assisi Church. Construction may be done during the summer of 2019.
The new grant would augment the project with sidewalks that, on one end, run up to Norfield Church and on the other extend past Weston Middle School, loop around Revson Field, and proceed up Lords Highway to Old Hyde Road on both sides.
The yellow line in the above photo shows the sidewalks route envisioned for Revson Field and Lords Highway. We tell you about that green line around Bisceglie Park in another article.
The red line in the above photo is where sidewalks would be built in the project where funds are already approved. The yellow line highlights where improvements would be made at the intersection of Route 57 and School Road.
The red line in the above photo is where sidewalks would be built in the project where funds are already approved. The yellow line shows the intersection and where, in the new grant application, sidewalks would extend west on Norfield Road to the church.
The plan is driven partly by a desire to make Weston more walkable as recreation and partly out of concerns for safety. Student pedestrian traffic is fairly heavy from the schools to the shopping center and on Lords Highway. That road, in effect, narrows during the winter when snow piles up. School buses and motorists make their way by threading the needle.
The funding being sought is part of the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program (LOTCIP).
Funds of this nature emanate from the Federal government to the states. In Connecticut, they are then disbursed to regional councils of government, which consist of the top elected leaders of member towns and cities, and are allocated by council vote to specific applications.
Weston is one of 18 towns and cities in the Western Council of Governments, WestCOG.
Weston doesn’t have much of a track record getting funds from WestCOG, which is why the odds of success are considered long. But August’s CT Connectivity grant came as a surprise as well. “Maybe it’s just our time,” said First Selectman Spaulding, “and it’s certainly a great opportunity to add an important safety and recreational feature to our town.”