STONINGTON — After more than half a century of advocating and waiting, the patchwork of sidewalks along Route 1 in Pawcatuck is expected to be completed.
“Last week we found an old article from the 1960s about how sidewalks were needed on South Broad Street and now because of the hard work and perseverance of many elected officials they will be,” said Danielle Cheesebrough, the first selectman of Stonington. “People are so happy and so hopeful after decades of advocating. It’s a very welcome piece of good news.”
“Persistence in trying to make this key section along Route 1 safer is paying off,” said Senator Heather Somers (R) who represents Stonington. “As someone who has been pushing for this funding for years through the legislative process, I just want to say how grateful and appreciative I am to see this project move forward.”
After a 2016 car crash resulted in the death of 77-year old Raymond Lanphere who was traveling in his motorized wheelchair on the side of the road, Somers said the calls for sidewalks in the name of safety grew louder.
“Replacing these sidewalks along Route 1 will make this area safer for Pawcatuck pedestrians and those traveling on motorized scooters,” Somers said. “We want to prevent future tragedies in this area, and I thank the governor for recognizing this need and the value of this investment.”
In addition to safety, Cheesebrough said she hopes a walkable Pawcatuck will lead to more economic growth in the area.
“It will be good for residents who live on this stretch and the businesses,” she said. “More foot traffic and pedestrian access will bring more customers in.”
According to an initial engineering plan completed last year with funding from the town’s board of finance, $600,000 will cover well more than half of the cost of the project.
“Based on the study our initial cost would be about $778,000, but it doesn’t include if we have to move utility poles or handle private right of ways,” Cheesebrough said.
Although the state’s allocation is not quite enough to pay for the full project, Cheesebrough said the plan is broken into phases so the town will be able to start construction before the remainder of the funding is secured. To complete the project she will be appealing to the taxpayers and board of finance during the 2021 budget process.
“I think we will have a really strong case to fund the gap that is left,” she said. “Now that we have state funding everyone should know that this has become a top priority.”