Trail backers hope study will show them the way (Earlier story)
The plan is for the Meriden Linear Trail to span the length of the city, branching off to connect to trails in neighboring towns, and a pending study might help lead city and trail officials to the best way to reach that goal.
The South Central Regional Council of Governments, of which Meriden is a member, has budgeted $20,000 for a study of the city's plans for the linear trail, including the best way to extend the trail through heavily residential areas, and how to link the trail with trails in Wallingford, Cheshire, Middletown and Berlin.
The study is being financed through an annual planning allotment that the council receives from the federal government, according to Stephen Dudley, a transportation planner for the council. It came at the request of the city.
"It's going to review the current trail status in Meriden ... whether there needs to be any further connections as these pieces are built," Dudley said Monday.
Only the first of five planned stages of the Linear Trail has been completed, with work expected to begin on the second phase next spring. The first phase begins near the Cheshire line and extends 1.3 miles to Hanover Pond. Phase two would connect the trail an additional 1.2 miles from its current end to just beyond Platt High School. Future phases would extend the trail all the way to the Middletown line and would link it to Wallingford's Quinnipiac River Linear Trail.
"This is trying to determine where we should go from here. We know where the second phase is going to run," Public Works Director Robert Bass said Monday. "The next phase is to go from Platt up to West Main Street, and then as it's currently envisioned is to head toward Columbus Park from there. But where else do we want to look? There's a lot of space in the city that this could go. We're trying to master plan it."
Meriden is building its trail exactly in the manner that Wallingford is, by planning and finishing the sections that are easiest to complete first, according to Mary M. Mushinsky, co-chairwoman of Wallingford's Quinnipiac River Linear Trail Advisory Committee and a Democratic state representative.
"They're trying to get their next phase in place, and usually what you do is you start with a design first or a vision," Mushinsky said. "They're doing the same thing Wallingford is doing, they're building the easy parts first ... It's just easier for them to build on rights of way they already control."
Mushinsky said studies such as the one Meriden will soon undertake help identify areas of land that could be acquired for trail purposes in the future and possible streams of federal and state funding that could be used to construct future phases of the trail.
The council of governments is in the process of soliciting consultants for the study, and Dudley said he expects the study to begin by October.
Meriden Record Journal 7/27/2010