Staff Responses to Forum Posts (Part I)

Below are responses from Town staff to resident questions regarding the Downtown Manchester Improvements project:

Excellent concept overall. Bus turnouts would be helpful to keep traffic flowing. Creating a paved bike lane/pedestrian path up Forest Street to terminus of Cheney Rail Trail would be helpful with appropriate signage.

The Town intends to discuss and coordinate with CT Transit to review existing locations ridership and identify their preferred locations to post bus stop signage in the future. CT Transit is the local bus operator servicing Manchester and the Route 83 Silver Lane Bus serves Downtown Manchester specifically. Timepoint #9 in their schedule is for Manchester Center (Town Hall) which has bus shelters provided for both directions of travel.

In areas where the buses do not need to dwell (designated times in the schedule where buses wait), bus pullouts are not typically required. CT Transit’s preference in some areas is to pick up and discharge passengers from the travel lane or to remain partially in the travel lane which allows for easier resumption of the route and that minimizes delay in service. When traffic is busy it can be difficult for buses to find gaps in traffic to pull out and proceed to their next destination. Due to the frequency of the bus route, it is not anticipated that this will cause significant delay. Additionally, by utilizing signage and not physical areas, much greater flexibility is offered to adjust and relocate bus stop areas as demands change in the future.

Linkages to the Cheney Trail via Park Street and Forest Street are being evaluated and considered under different projects including the use of signage at both ends.

The plan has many good features! I agree with the previous comment about needing an accommodation for buses and also am wondering where trucks will unload — they currently take one travel lane. And finally, I wonder if street parking is converted to parallel parking, will changes be made to parking lot access to improve safety?

Delivery trucks and vehicles will still be able to utilize parking spaces along Main Street. Additional buffer areas between some parking areas and the travel way have been provided that can be utilized. The Town also proposes the use of textured stamped pavement in the center of the road which can be utilized for loading and unloading of larger trucks off-peak or provides by-pass space around.

A separate project is currently starting design to reconstruct the Town leased parking lot on Park Street which also includes the replacement of lighting within the parking lot and the construction of improved access between the lot and Main St, which will include stairs and green-scape. Access from Municipal parking lots east of Main Street will be evaluated as part of the Downtown project with access and lighting reviewed. Any specific suggestions should be submitted via MarkIt or Your Voice Matters. Please note that the connection adjacent to Key Bank is privately owned and the Town has no control of it. Key Bank has declined to partner with the Town on improvements to their connection at this time.

As a business owner with a store on Main Street I’m very concerned about the change in parking. Easy and convenient parking is one of the most important aspects to my customers. Many of whom are elderly and cannot walk far. Certainly having the diagonal parking directly in front of my business is and has been vital to what drives my business. My customers drive in from surrounding towns as well, they need convenient and close parking. The back parking lots are already full on a Saturday they cannot accommodate an increase.

Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns with the project team. We understand that accessible parking is important for all of our Downtown businesses. Others have commented about the need for accessible on-street spaces and we plan to incorporate more into future iterations of the plan. Please note the total number of on-street spaces in the corridor remains essentially the same in the current concept plan. You mention off-street parking, which is another important element to Downtown. There are currently over 800 public parking spaces in our public parking lots, the great majority of those within a short walking distance of the center of Downtown. This includes the now-free Cyan lot at St. James Church, which will soon be directly connected to Main Street. All that said, we will continue to work towards a balance of accommodating all visitors in a way that makes Downtown more inviting and accessible to everyone.

Can anyone from the town speak on the economic impact the construction 🚧 🦺 🏗 would have on businesses? The Pandemic has already taken its toll on many of our businesses. Plus, Not all businesses received PPE loans or grants. Some of us took a major hit and are struggling to survive. With the current rate of inflation and the very likely recession to come, a year of construction would be the final death blow for some of us! Maybe this would be a better plan down the road when the economy isn’t so bad. 🤷🏼‍♀️

Thank you for your comment . We recognize the construction activity necessary to complete this project will cause some disruption for Downtown businesses. Implementing such a transformational project cannot be done without some level of disruption. The Town will work with the selected contractor to limit that disruption as much as possible, to communicate with individual businesses and property owners about construction phasing and timing, and to communicate to the public that businesses are open and how to access them. Also please note the Town is in the process of securing funding for this project and work would not commence this construction season. Such a significant project is only possible through the availability of recovery and infrastructure funds from the Federal and State Governments. Such funding sources will likely not be available in the future, so the Town sees this as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to leverage outside funds in order to complete a project that will benefit all of Downtown for years to come.

The plan has many good features, though I sympathize with the business owners who fear the loss of diagonal parking and the public who enjoy the ease of the drive-in slots-although parallel may be safer when exiting.

Experience has shown parallel parking to be safer than pull-in angle parking, particularly for drivers who otherwise would have had to back out into oncoming traffic.

Will all bus stops have a center lane bypass available?

(Also see above) There are no stops that require buses to dwell and wait. Stopped buses are actively picking up and discharging passengers and can be bypassed using the stamped, flush median center islands.

Has the plan been coordinated with CTTransit plans that may envision bus waiting areas

(Also see above)

Can the fire-lost building space next to Manchester Mall be used to make a more attractive pedestrian passage to rear parking?

Thank you for the suggestion. The Town would love to see that property either developed or part of some sort of public space as you envision. That property is privately owned and at this point in time, the owner has chosen to hold onto it.

Will you include outlets at sit-down areas for charging electric bike batteries & phones?

Solar-based charging for smart devices & personal mobility devices that can be incorporated into seating and/or shade structures is a type of amenity the Town is interested in hearing feedback on. If there is interest, these type of amenities can be included in the project.

Will the plan use the excavation opportunity to add destination EV chargers, perhaps on lamp posts?

The Town is pursuing multiple grant opportunities to bring EV charging stations to Manchester including one or more locations in the Downtown area as separate, coordinated projects. An area within the Purnell Parking Lot already has buried conduit installed for future charging station needs. No other locations have been selected/finalized at this time.

Has the plan been coordinated with SustainableCT pathway to maximize our sustainability rating?

The Department of Public Works is coordinating this year’s update to Manchester’s sustainability rating and ideas for sustainable infrastructure are being considered that could be incorporated into the project. Any specific ideas or suggestions towards these efforts should be shared on the Your Voice Matters project page.

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