Enabling a Stroll to Saybrook Station

North Main Street in Old Saybrook should become a bit more pedestrian friendly courtesy of a $999,900 state grant for sidewalks.
North Main Street in Old Saybrook should become a bit more pedestrian friendly courtesy of a $999,900 state grant for sidewalks.

OLD SAYBROOK - By this time next year, pedestrians will be able to walk on sidewalks from the train station along North Main Street to the Boston Post Road and then along Main Street. That's because a $999,900 state grant the town just received will pay for new sidewalks along both sides of that road.

The State Department of Transportation (DOT) grant funding ensures that planned North Main Street upgrades will be completed before the end of 2015. On the list of fixes are the installation of new sidewalks along both sides of the road, a new stormwater drainage system, and full re-construction of the road from road-bed to new surface paving.

First Selectman Carl Fortuna, Jr., said that Town Engineer Jeff Jacobson now can develop the detailed engineering drawings that will support the bidding process.

North Main Street, the focus of this improvement project, is a two-block long town road that extends northward from the Boston Post Road to the train tracks adjacent to the Old Saybrook train station. Currently, train commuters park on the grassy area on both sides of this road every work day because the state's parking area is too small to accommodate all of the commuters' cars.

That will soon change, however, since the state is moving forward on a project that will put a new 200-space parking lot on a 3.6 acre parcel bounded by the train tracks and North Main Street.

DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick said that the state acquired the future parking lot land for a price of $1.577 million from Jandin Realty, LLC, in March 2014. The owner has appealed the purchase arrangement not due to the acquisition price set by the state's process but to better define the terms of the purchase agreement.

"We are in friendly and professional discussions with the owner," said Nursick.

Since both the town's road re-build work and the state's new train station parking lot affect North Main Street, Fortuna said the two projects will be closely coordinated.

Nursick said the DOT plans to publicly advertise the parking lot construction project by November with construction expected to start in March 2015.

At a public hearing in October 2013, DOT officials said the agency already had secured the funding needed both to buy the property and construct the parking lot on it. DOT project documents at that time estimated the construction cost at between $1.0 million and $2.5 million.

Funding for the North Main Street road improvement project will come from the state's Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program. The application for the funds was submitted on the town's behalf by the Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments.

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