The first public workshop for this project was held on February 21, 2013 (notes from this meeting are below). Using input from this meeting, the consultants, Town staff and Planning Committee developed a plan of improvements for Water Street and recommended priorities. A second public workshop was held later that year. Issues discussed at that time included the proposed removal of trees, which was, and still is, controversial, but necessary to deal with overhead utility lines, reduce damage during storms, and allow for reconstruction of better and safer sidewalks.
Construction was originally expected to begin in early spring of 2014. Unfortunately, the project was delayed significantly. This delay created a new challenge: to coordinate the Streetscape project with several utility projects (sewer, water and gas) that are also planned for Water Street. In 2016 and 2017 the primary focus became to find ways to reduce the duration and cost of all this construction as much as possible, and thereby the disruption to residents and the business community. Construction kicked off in the Fall of 2017 with substantial completion in July of 2018. Work continues on the historic lighting, street furniture, signage and other finishing touches. Sidewalk replacement will continue south of Washington Street in 2019 as the budget allows.
Further explanation and updates are, and will continue to be, provided below.
Questions and comments may be addressed to:
Bob Rulli, Director of Planning and Community Development
Kate Michaud, Town Manager
July 31, 2019
Bristol County Water Authority's contractor will be reinstalling the traffic signal loop within the road on north Water Street at the intersection with Main Street. They will also be completing striping on Main Street and the northernmost section of Water Street.
Tomorrow evening, Thursday August 1, the Town's contractor will be completing the permanent striping on Water Street. Parking restrictions will be in place from 8:00 PM to 5:00 AM. We appreciate your cooperation as it is essential to have the road clear to complete the work.
Background on Tree Removal
A large number of trees were marked for removal in early November 2016, unfortunately without a prior public announcement. This, understandably, upset people, in particular those not yet familiar with the plan or with the public process that was followed a few years ago (which also included review by the Tree Commission). On November 9, the DPW Director and Town Manager walked the length of the project and agreed on taking 14 trees off the removal list. On November 15, 2016 a public hearing was held in Town Hall pursuant to the Town’s Tree Ordinance, at which many people spoke against the removal of trees. At the same time, many people appeared to accept the criteria used by the Town to keep trees on the removal list: (1) the health and age of a tree, (2) safety concerns involving overhead utility lines, and (3) safety concerns involving heaving or buckling sidewalks (and other noncompliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act).
On November 17, another walk-through was conducted with local design professionals, as well as the Town’s consultants and interested members of the public, during which the Town agreed to try and save several more trees. In addition, the Town decided not to cut any trees until after Thanksgiving and the annual Holiday Festival. The current numbers are as follows: out of 61 trees included in the original (2013) inventory, 31, including a big stump, will be removed (instead of 45 originally proposed) and 30 will remain (instead of 16). Counting both the trees that will remain, and replacement trees that were previously proposed for the east side of the trees, the total number of trees would be 52 (instead of 44 under the earlier plan). This number may increase further as the Tree Commission and Tree Warden work together to identify opportunities to plant additional trees.
The goal of the Streetscape project is to create an attractive, safe and green streetscape. It will take a collective effort to achieve, not just an acceptable, but an exceptional outcome.
Public Workshop Notes from Focus Groups
Compiled Focus Group comments by Topic
Tree Inventory 1
Tree Inventory 2
Tree Inventory 3
Tree Inventory 4
Tree Inventory 8
Tree Inventory 9
Tree Inventory 10
Tree Hearing Notes 11-15-2016 T
90% Streetscape Plans: Landscape Plans
90% Streetscape Plans: Engineer's Plan
Water Street Presentation 02/23/2017
Water Street Public Meeting 2-23-2017