West Hartford receives state funding for Park Road reconstruction

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WEST HARTFORD — The city has announced it will receive $1.5 million in state bond dollars to help rehabilitate Park Road.

“These dollars are going to West Hartford so that we can bring the vision of the Park Road Association to life,” Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz said in the city council chambers last week. “The vision of the Park Road Rehabilitation Project is to enable walkers, cyclists and drivers to traverse the neighborhood so that they can best enjoy all that the neighborhood has to offer, which includes a plethora of very beautiful shops, excellent restaurants and leisure areas that stretch along Park Road.”

The plan will update road infrastructure and include new sidewalks, as well as improvements such as benches, bike hitches and business directories.

“West Hartford residents and visitors will be able to explore the entire area safely,” Bysiewicz said, adding that it can help create a gateway to and from Hartford.

John Paindiris, owner of the family restaurant Effie’s Place on Park Road and chairman of the Park Road Association, said the improvements were much needed.

“I know and appreciate the reinvestment in our community,” Paindiris said. “I was part of this neighborhood in the late 90s when we had our first major rebuild. It took about 18 months. New sidewalks, new streets and new infrastructure…and it was fantastic. It was really a good shot in the arm in the neighborhood. People were re-exposed to Park Road and came back.”

Cycle paths do not extend through the heart of the business and commercial section of Park Road. They end once a runner reaches Quaker Lane South. Paindiris said adding more bike lanes and the other improvements mentioned will make the area more accessible.

“The addition of new sidewalks, fresh pavement, crosswalks, benches, cycle lanes, wayfinding signs will all be a great addition to Park Road, especially with the housing project which is being developed. construction at the corner of Prospect and Park,” Paindiris said. “It will be much needed and it will make it even more of a walkable community. As a business owner, I’m thrilled. Making it brighter, cleaner and easier for people to walk through is going to be great.”

Mayor Shari Cantor said the city targeted Park Road for this project due to aging infrastructure since the area was last redeveloped in the 1990s. The city is also embarking on a future reconstruction of West Hartford Center and is bringing its Complete Streets program at New Park Avenue, which will also be rebuilt.

“We continue to do that all over the city,” Cantor said. “It’s an aging infrastructure. It was done in the 90s and now there are sidewalks that are crumbling a bit and aging. We have to reinvest in that and that’s what this obligation allows us to TO DO.”

State Senator Derek Slap said the Park Road project stands out among many requests for state bond dollars because of how the project will boost the local economy.

“The lieutenant governor and the governor have challenged us to really focus these requests on projects that are going to shake things up in economic development,” Slap said. “And that’s how we landed on this one.”

City Manager Rick Ledwith said the project will begin after the holiday season, as the city enters spring 2023.

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