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Transportation improvement project moves forward

May 02, 2018
LITTLETON — A million-dollar overhaul to sidewalks and streets is gearing up. Funding has been secured from federal grant programs to proceed with a range of improvements designed to make walking around town safer and easier.

Littleton has won a $1 million Transportation Alternatives Program grant, which Phil Corbett of CMA Engineers called the largest such grant ever. CMA Engineers will be the project engineers, and will sub-contract for specific project elements. The grant includes a 20 percent match.

Connectivity is a key goal; the project will improve the quality of Littleton's sidewalks, especially on Cottage Street, and improve connections between them.

Another priority is to link the River District, along the back side of Main Street, to the shops and homes up the Cottage Street hill. Project leaders expect that a better-connected set of districts will make it easier for residents and visitors alike to, for instance, shop in the downtown and walk to the Co Op. More walking, less driving, and easier access to all is expected to improve quality of life as well.

The specific details of each project element are still being hashed out, and Corbett said the final plan would allow "some flexibility" to meet Littleton's preferences, provided all grant requirements are still met.

On the Cottage Street section, the grant requires improvements to disability accessibility, such as improvements to curb ramps, and other necessities of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Furthermore, as a federally-funded project, construction will require an easement for any intrusions onto private property. The project is expected to last somewhere in the range of 15 months from start to finish, according to CMA engineers.

"We believe Cottage Street is the number one priority," said River District Commission Chair John Hennessey, who led an informational meeting on the TAP project last week.

The Cottage Street sewer dates from the 1930's with minimal change, according to Town Manager Andrew Dorsett.

Project leaders feel that the TAP grant is a huge opportunity, and are eager to squeeze every possible benefit out of it by vigorous planning and extensive coordination. They aim to prioritize key project elements well ahead of start time.

From the grand strategic level, the TAP grant is part of Littleton's push to improve its infrastructure district by district. With one section under cosntruction along Saranac and Ammonoosuc Street—financed through a separate grant award—the next phase is already being planned out. Citizens should expect further information and visioning sessions with project leaders in the coming weeks and months.

Last year, Littleton implemented a $600,000 Safe Routes to School Project, that made similar improvements to the sidewalks and roads around Lakeway Elementary. As then, Public Works Director Joe DePalma said his key concern was being able to plow during snowy months.

Last week, one citizen expressed concern about how difficult it was to push the crosswalk button during the winter months, when snow piles up around the poles.

"I've been hit once by a hit and run driver, and I don't want to be hit again," she told project leaders.

Corbett said that when drivers pull off the highway, they may be 'desensitized' to speed, and that traffic calming measures for the I-93/Cottage exchange area could be explored.

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