Trail Construction Begins

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At the Observer’s press time, it was expected that construction of the multi-use trail running west along Mountain Road would begin on April 4. The project’s contract, financed by $930,000 in State LOTCIP funding, was awarded to Spazzarini Construction Co. of Enfield. (LOTCIP means Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program.)

The trail will extend almost a mile from the driveway entrance at Suffield Middle School out to the first intersection with Plantation Drive, where, on the south side of Mountain Road and the west side of Sheldon Street, an existing sidewalk can continue a trail-user’s route toward Spaulding School and Suffield High. For most of the way, pedestrian traffic between the Town Center and the schools will be very much safer. And the trail is wide enough, for the most part, to accommodate bicycles as well, providing cyclists – especially younger riders – a safer route than out on the highway. Ever since the Main Street sidewalks were rebuilt several decades ago, the numbers of walkers there have increased greatly, with and without dogs. Now that benefit will be extended westward.

The trail will run along the north side of Mountain Road. Almost all of it will be 10 feet wide, paved with what contractors call bituminous concrete – what we all know as asphalt, or just blacktop. Approaching Plantation Drive, a 200-foot section of narrower conventional concrete sidewalk will run along the side yard of the first house on Plantation Drive, requiring some caution. There will be new zebra-striped crosswalks at three locations.

At the Middle School entrance, a new striped crossing will be placed across that entrance road. The striped markings crossing Mountain Road to the east side of Canborne Way (leading into Park View Glen) will be shifted a bit and provided with button-activated “Rectangular Rapid-Flashing Beacons” on both sides. Walkers and cyclists have the right of way at striped crossings, and these RRFBs, with their urgently flashing yellow lights, are claimed to increase driver awareness and cooperation.

The next spot for special attention is Hill Street, where a new, long, striped crossing will be marked, connecting the trail across this difficult intersection. No RRFBs will be installed here.

Next to the westernmost exit from the Sacred Heart Church parking lot, the existing striped crossing leading to the Harmon Drive entrance to Suffield West apartments will get RRFBs. Paving for the trail will continue across the several entrances of the church lot and at Goodyear Nurseries.

The next spot of note is near the end, where the trail narrows to concrete next to the first Plantation Drive lot. Signage here will indicate the end of the “Bike Route,” but the construction drawings show no particular attention to entering or leaving the trail there from or to the roadway. Evidently, that 200 feet of concrete trail is only for pedestrians and cyclists walking their bikes.

A new striped crossing carries the trail across Plantation Drive to a very short stretch of concrete. And that final piece of the trail is where new striped markings will cross Mountain Road to a spot near the west side of Sheldon Street, ending on the existing concrete sidewalk there. RRFBs will be installed on both sides of Mountain Road.

The drawings provided for this review show considerable detail on signage, utility poles, drainage, turfing, and other matters. Surprising to this reporter is that, except for the road and driveway crossings, the trail is flanked by two three-rail wooden fences for its entire length. And the drawings provided do not show what work might be done at the Police Station where the existing sidewalk ends before walkers reach Spaulding School. Perhaps a subsequent report can describe what is planned there.

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