Kent transport

Kent sees its downtown as a “destination”. New sidewalks could be even more ‘invigorating’

KENT – Crews have been on the streets of Kent all week as construction of the town’s streetscape project has begun.

The approximately $3 million project, which involves replacing approximately 11,000 linear feet of sidewalks in the city, took 14 years to complete. The work is expected to be completed in approximately 180 days.

Kent First Selectman Jean Speck said when the project was completed: ‘This is going to be a game-changer for the center of our village.’

She added that besides “attractiveness”, the end result of the project will be a “level and reliable walking surface for our residents”.

The existing sidewalks, which are asphalt with asphalt curbs, “are subject to weather, age and plows,” Speck said.

Asphalt sidewalks will be replaced with concrete sidewalks with granite curbs.

Contractors are making sidewalk cuts on North Main and Bridge streets. Spoil material will eventually be excavated to provide work space for contractors during the demolition and construction of the sidewalks.

After going through a bidding process in February, the city selected Mather Corporation in Bloomfield to do the first phase of the work, which is Route 7 from the Soldiers’ Monument to the Railroad Tracks. On the east side of the street, the works extend to the pedestrian crossing. On the west side, it ends at the Fife ‘n Drum Restaurant & Inn parking lot, where a new pedestrian crossing will be installed.

Mather had carried out a pavement repair project in the center of Salisbury village, and Speck said she thought they had done a good job.

The first phase costs about $1.7 million.

Phase two will include Route 7 south of the Soldiers Monument, to Kent Greenhouse & Gardens, and 341 East on the south side of the street, which is on the side of the fire station. On the north side it will run to the extension of Maple Street and terminate at the Stuart Farm Apartments, and include the south side of Lane Street.

No date has yet been set for the start of phase two.

“We’re in the design engineering phase of this, so it’ll probably be three or four months before we hear back. It’s with the DOT (Department of Transportation) for their review,” Speck said. . in autumn.”

‘A destination’

Speck said tourism in Kent has grown significantly over the past two and a half years and the new pavements could not have come at a better time for the town.

“We’re definitely an in-town destination for people, and I think that’s because we not only have this amazing village downtown, but also a very classic New England shopping experience and dining experience.” , said Speck, of the city, which has a population of about 3,000. “There are over a dozen restaurants you can choose from in our little town and they’re all very different,” she said.

Dining options include Kent Falls Brewing Co. & Tasting Room on Camps Road, JP Gifford Market & Catering Company on North Main Street, Fife ‘n Drum Restaurant & Inn on North Main Street, and Ore Hill & Swyft on Maple Street.

In addition, the city is known for its hiking trails.

“You can drive five minutes over 35 miles of hiking trails,” Speck said.

The Appalachian Trail runs through Kent, so hikers often pass through it, she said.

“It’s a big, big draw. You can pick it up at Bulls Bridge and walk all the way along a ridgeline that runs through Kent, and basically have a view of the whole valley where our town is. “, she added. .

There is also a visitor center with public restrooms and a hot shower.

“For two bucks you can get a hot shower and a bottle filler, which is a big draw for hikers where you can refill your bottle with clean water,” she said.

Kent also has many land trusts. The Kent Land Trust has over 3,000 acres preserved. There are 10 different reserves for hiking, Speck said.

She added that a growing number of residents are shopping in the city and many are staying there.

“First and foremost, we always want to think about our residents, but also, we rely heavily on visitors,” Speck said. “And I always consider visitors as potential new residents.”

“Hats off to him”

Speck credits his predecessor, former Kent First Selectman Bruce Adams, with carrying out the project.

“I have to commend Bruce Adams because it was under his leadership that this whole concept really developed. He applied for the grants. It’s hats off to him for caring about the center of the village the way he did. done,” Speck said.

She added that the new sidewalks “are really going to reinvigorate our city.”

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