Walk Audits and Road Diet: Update on New Park Avenue Complete Streets Project

Bike West Hartford encourages everyone to get informed and involved in the New Park Avenue Complete Streets Project. One way is to participate in an upcoming “walk audit,” and another way is to offer feedback on the current draft of the Town Engineering plans.

Transport Hartford, a project of the Center for Latino Progress, invites you to join one of its upcoming “walk audits” to improve New Park Avenue. Walk Audits are an experiential activity to assess the safety of a designated area for vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians, wheelchair users, and cyclists. Choose either event — Thursday July 7th OR Saturday July 23rd — which both run from 10am-12pm, and meet at the Elmwood CTfastrak station, on corner of New Park Ave and New Britain Ave (next door to the new BiCiCo West community bike shop). Bring good walking shoes and weather-appropriate attire. Hosted by Transport Hartford and sponsoring organizations.

Join the Walk Audit from 10am-12pm on either Thurs July 7th or Sat July 23rd

Also, the West Hartford Pedestrian and Bicycle Commission recently heard an update from the Town Engineers on the New Park Avenue Complete Streets Project, with improvements between New Britain Avenue and Oakwood Avenue. The overall project budget is $3.8 million, with nearly all of the costs covered by two grants from the State of Connecticut, plus a $100k match from Town funds. According to a Town Engineering update on June 13th, “project elements include roadway resurfacing, decorative streetlights, buffered bike lanes, a pocket park [for the Trout Brook Trail entrance], landscaped medians, street trees, wayfinding signage, enhanced mid-block crosswalks, and traffic signal improvements. Between major intersections, the roadway will be reduced to three vehicle lanes: one travel in each direction and a center two-way left turn lane.” The planning stage is 35 percent complete as of March 2022. View the abridged plans, or take a deeper dive and view the longer version with comments from CRCOG reviewers.

Explore this Google Map of the New Park Avenue area.

But the Town Engineering update included two significant changes from prior plans:

“First, the bike lanes [will begin at the Trout Brook Trail entrance near the bridge and] will end at Talcott Road, and transition to an 8-foot wide paved sidepath along the west side of New Park Avenue to West Hartford Place [the Home Depot shopping area].” How this change would affect the continuity of bike lanes and pedestrian crossing on New Park Avenue is still unclear.

“Second, while minor repairs were initially planned for the New Park Avenue bridge over Trout Brook [near the trail entrance], the Town is now pursuing grant funding for a complete replacement of this aging [bridge]. This change was initiated because of updated CTDOT inspection report and concerns that repairs may not last as long as hoped. The bridge replacement will be a separate project and will temporarily postpone the construction of Complete Streets elements adjacent to the bridge.” This would significantly delay the mid-block pedestrian crossing, bike lanes, and pocket park entrance to the Trout Brook trail, located across from BiCiCo West at 616 New Park Avenue.

Explore this Google Map of the New Park Avenue bridge over Trout Brook.

Feedback on New Park Avenue Complete Streets is welcome at the Monday July 11th 7pm meeting of the West Hartford Pedestrian and Bicycle Commission. (While the WHPBC agenda has not yet been published, the most recent meeting locations were at the Elmwood Community Center, 2nd floor, 1106 New Britain Ave, WH.) Also, you can Town Engineers email feedback to the Town Engineers. The Engineers expect to complete semi-final plans in late summer/early fall 2022, with final design and bidding into 2023, and construction to begin in mid-2023 and concluded by 2024. However, the Trout Brook bridge replacement may delay Complete Street elements, as described above.