Mayor of Bristol praises state's plan for Routes 72, 69 construction

Published on Friday, 13 December 2019 16:23
Written by SUSAN CORICA

@coricaBP

BRISTOL – The state’s plan to make major changes to the intersection of Routes 72 and 69 will help jump start improvements to the West End, according to Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu. “It’s a little bit of pain for a lot of gain.”

The Connecticut Department of Transportation held a public information meeting on the project recently. It will involve widening Route 72, shifting it to the north, and adding dedicated left turn lanes, and extending Pratt Street one block north to connect with 72. Divinity Street will be terminated at its intersection with Landry Street.

The estimated cost is $6 million, 80% federally funded and 20% state funded, said Joseph Arsenault, project engineer.

“We’ve been monitoring this project for years. We’re happy that we’ve gotten to the point where we have a project number and funding attached to it, which is really important,” said Zoppo-Sassu.

The neighborhood, which is historic and densely populated, has been struggling for years, she said. “This is one of those projects that can actually pivot and start to change some of the socioeconomic and perception issues in this neighborhood.”

The plan includes demolishing four multi-family buildings along Route 72, which the mayor said will help lower the housing density in the West End.

“Our code enforcement initiative has been at work for years trying to clean up and introduce good landlords to this area, and for the most part I think we’ve been pretty successful,” she said.

The city’s 2015 Plan of Conservation and Development and 2011 A Plan for the West End Neighborhood both address the housing density in the neighborhood, Zoppo-Sasssu said.

They address creating more parking spaces and lowering housing density through selective demolition, she said, “so that everybody has a little bit more green space, a little bit more breathing room.”

The city is interested in pursuing selective demolition even beyond what is included in the DOT’s project, she said.

“And let’s not forget that we have the Pequabuck River as a resource,” she added, noting that the city is looking to connect pedestrian and bicycle paths from Memorial Boulevard to Rockwell Park.

Zoppo-Sassu said there is another DOT project that is just in the conceptual stages right now, that could eventually re-align Route 72 to come through Brackett Park, so it wouldn’t turn down Main Street to connect with School Street, she said.

That would help to further connect the West End with Riverside Avenue, “which is in desperate need of a facelift,” and all the way to the planned bridge improvement project where Blakeslee and Downs streets, Riverside and Memorial Boulevard meet, she said.

“So we are really interested in continuing the partnership and conversation with the DOT because as this project comes to fruition there are all these other opportunities to add other pieces to it as well. It can really help redefine what we’re doing downtown, and this neighborhood specifically,” she said.

Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or scorica@bristolpress.com.



Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol on Friday, 13 December 2019 16:23. Updated: Friday, 13 December 2019 16:25.