A $23.1 million federal Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant the City of Waterbury received includes funding for long-overdue improvements that will revitalize West Main Street West Main Street between the Waterbury Green and Riverside Drive and make it safer for all users.
The city received the grant in August from the U.S. Department of Transportation and is in the early design stages of the planned improvements. That grant was awarded in part because of a study completed in July 2022 that NVCOG led in collaboration with the city of Waterbury and the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) that identified challenges to using West Main Street and opportunities to make it better.
West Main Street is a short but much-used corridor that connects downtown Waterbury with parts of the city that are on the west side of the Naugatuck River. But as important as it is, West Main Street also has issues that make using it a challenge for motorists, pedestrians, cyclists and transit users. The road surface is deteriorating, and the width varies significantly between two lanes in some areas to as much as six in others. For pedestrians, crossing West Main Street can be difficult.
A complete streets approach has guided planning for upcoming work, which will include realigning intersections, narrowing parts of the road, rehabilitating existing sidewalks and building new ones, putting in bicycle lanes, and traffic calming strategies. Eyewitness News Channel 3 covered the story and interviewed NVCOG Director of Planning Josh Lecar.
The biggest component of the project is reducing the number of travel lanes on West Main Street and making the road a uniform width. Plans call for eliminating an eastbound vehicle travel lane between Thomaston Avenue and the railroad overpass. More lane reductions are proposed in the eastbound direction east of Willow Street and Meadow Street. The number and width of vehicle travel lanes will also be reduced in the westbound direction between Willow Street and Meadow Street and Church Street.
Reducing how much street space there is for motor vehicles would free up area along both sides of West Main Street for walkers, cyclists, and other users. New mid-block pedestrian crosswalks are planned, along with other enhancements that will make the road safer for walkers like high visibility treatments, pedestrian activated signal systems, and curb extensions are planned. For cyclists, dedicated bike lanes and a protected shared-used path are part of the plan. There also will be bus lanes, more on-street parking and traffic calming measures.
Community participation was a vital component to the study. Public meetings were held throughout the study and a public advisory committee was formed to help the planners. The PAC met for the third and final time on Sept. 28, 2021, and heard a presentation on the project from Fuss & O’Neill, the firm that helped NVCOG and the city with the study.