Residents Share Ideas at Route 10 Charrette

Day one started with lots of information and the sharing of ideas.

Anyone can have a great idea. That is the basis, in part, to what is behind the charrette process. The public's input is essential to make the whole thing work.

There were plenty of ideas being shared at last night's Route 10 corridor study charrette, which runs through Feb. 10 and is being held at the .

The study is addressing safety issues, access management, and development potential/growth along a 7-mile stretch of Route 10 running between the Simsbury/Avon border and Wolcott Road. The focus is on transportation issues and the view is long-term, as in the next 20 years.

Some of the suggestions that came out of the first public meeting: build another bridge over the Farmington River, more sidewalks, reduce curb cuts, add more turning lanes, add a commuter bus stop at Route 315 to prevent that traffic from getting into the town center and add a commuter bus south of Route 185. 

Those are just a few of the ideas that the charrette team from Fuss & O'Neill, a Manchester-based engineering consulting firm with an office in Simbsury, representatives from the Capitol Region Council of Governments and town planner Hiram Peck will be turning into draft designs that will be on view Tuesday from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the library for comment. 

But you do not have to wait until tonight. There are open studio times at the library where you can bring ideas or watch the process take shape.

"It's important to have the input," said Nancy Haase, who is involved with the town’s economic development commission.

She said one thing that is important to her is that the road remains two lanes.

That sentiment is one of the guiding principals of the study, although there are options for certain areas to make traffic flow better.

Additional comments during the evening included questioning whether or not the town's population is shrinking or going to increase in the future. Some said the traffic isn't that bad, others said it will only get more congested with time.

Steven Antonio, owner of Antonio’s' Restaurant, was there as a businessman and a resident. As a resident, he wants to get from point A to point B without too much hassle. As a business owner he has another concern.

"If there's traffic people don’t stop," he said.

He likes the idea of the corridor study because it is coming up with a long-term plan. He has noticed more traffic and more spots where there are bottlenecks.

"It's timely," he said of the study and the charrette.

There were about 100 people there over the course of the evening, with most of them participating from beginning to end. The session started with a presentation about the corridor study area, information about the charrette and the study process itself, which if all goes well, will mean a plan may be ready by June to be presented to the various boards and commissions in town. The end result is not a set of regulations but a plan that can be used to guide creating regulations for the area if needed.

After the opening presentation, those in attendance gathered around tables with an oversized map in the middle and markers. After about 25 minutes or so, each table had a representative share some of the ideas they came up with about what they wanted to see happen along the study area and things they did not.

Ideas that were shared included synchronizing the traffic lights, better east to west crossing on Hopmeadow, and making it more bike-friendly.

As far as what people did not want to see: do not straighten the road, don’t bring any alternate roads closer to the river, and do not make the corridor primed for undefined future development. Many ideas were centered on keeping the town's integrity.

"I want to preserve the character of the town," said Elizabeth Berman.

The Capitol Region Council of Governments is behind the study, which is being done in conjunction with the state Department of Transportation and the town. The total cost of the project is $200,000. The town's share is $20,000.

The study lays the groundwork for possible projects that emerge from the guidelines, an important step for any project to move forward and sets the stage for federal and/or state funding.

The rest of the charrette looks like this: today the public session, with drawings generated from Monday on display, is from 5 to 6:30 p.m. The public will help critique the various materials that will then be refined.

On Wednesday, Feb. 9, the same format will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. with the revised drawings in order to discuss further refinement of the plans.

On the last day, Feb. 10, the final public presentation will take place between 7 and 9 p.m. The walls will display the final charrette drawings and there will be a recap of the activities, as well as a presentation of the initial draft plan. Discussion of next steps and a question and answer session are also planned.

"I thought it was great," said Liz Kress of the first public session.

For more information, go to the Capitol Region Council of Government's Web site, Rt. 10 Corridor Study or to the town Web site.

Tim February 08, 2011 at 04:01 PM
Synchronize the traffic lights in the center????? The state did that 3 years ago from Owens Brook Blvd to route 185. Good thing they spent time discussing a change that already in place.


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