West Hartford's multi-use trail will soon be able to accommodate walkers, runners, and bikers heading north from Beachland Park along Trout Brook, following the Town Council's unanimous approval Tuesday night of a resolution to continue the trail's construction.
According to the West Hartford Plan of Conservation and Development 2009-2019, the town eventually hopes to construct a 3.2 mile trail along Trout Brook, from Elmwood, through West Hartford Center, to the UConn West Hartford property at Asylum Ave. Currently, .75 miles of trail have been constructed in the Elmwood area, from New Park Ave. to Beachland Park.
The latest piece of the trail will add 2,900 feet in Elmwood, extending it from Beachland Park along Trout Brook to Jackson Ave. It will involve re-engineering the I-84 West Exit 42 to a "T" intersection, which will be safer for pedestrians who will need to cross that area via a crosswalk, said Town Manager Ron Van Winkle, who introduced the resolution.
The new piece of trail will end at Jackson Ave., where users will be able to cross Trout Brook Dr. with a crosswalk and continue along the sidewalk on the east side of the road. The multi-use trail begins again at Park Rd. and Trout Brook, and continues to Farmington Ave.
To complete the trail, "we need to make the connection between Fern and Farmington, and then Fern and Asylum. It’s intended to run along the brook, so when you ride your bike you’re away from the roadway," said Van Winkle.
Much of the funding for the trail's extension through Elmwood comes from Federal funding for STP (Surface Transportation Program) projects. West Hartford competed against other municipalities for the grant, and was selected as a regional priority by the Capital Region Council of Governments.
The addition to the trail will cost $734,000, of which 80 percent ($588,000) will be paid through Federal funds. The Town of West Hartford will expend $135,000, and an additional $11,000 for oversight during the engineering phase will be paid by the state.
In response to a question from Minority Leader Denise Hall, Van Winkle said that the cost estimates did not include maintenance. However, he said that maintenance would be minimal since the trail will not be plowed and will likely not require resurfacing for 30 years.
The project was "generally supported" by those who attended the Dec. 12 public hearing on the project, according to the resolution. Van Winkle said some people suggested moving the trail closer to Trout Brook, but the slope of the ground would not allow that, he said.
The trail should be ready for the summer of 2013.