Canton officials are hoping a series of initiatives will facilitate the extension of the Farmington River Trail from where it ends near the “CVS” parcel up to the end of town-owned property at 55 Lawton Road.
Eventually, officials hope to complete the entire Farmington River Trail, a Farmington to Simsbury loop off the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail.
The completed portion runs from Farmington and ends along the Konover parcel at on Lawton Road from its junction from Route 44 up to the Canton Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Recently the Board of Selectmen authorized the town to apply for a state Department and Energy and Environmental Protection Recreation Trails Program Grant of $290,962, which would cover 80 percent of the estimated $363,703 cost to build a 1,200 foot portion of trail along the frontage of town-owned property at 55 Lawton Road. The cost estimate (see attached pdf) includes site work, engineering, trail construction and other related work.
At the same time, two other initiatives are in the works that could eventually fill in the gaps.
First, the town is looking to see if officials at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints would be amenable to having the trail extend along its property at 27 Lawton Road.
In addition, state Rep. Tim LeGeyt and state Sen. Kevin Witkos have proposed legislation that would convey to the town a thin strip of state-owned property near the intersection of Washburn Road.
The land would give the town the chance to shift the road a little to the west, straighten the intersection with Washburn Road and should leave enough room run the multi-use path along a portion of what is now Lawton Road, First Selectman Richard Barlow said.
While one of the main goals of that transfer is safety, it could also facilitate the trail, officials said.
Witkos said he anticipates the conveyance will happen this year.
Funding for the trail would also have to be put in place.
Where the trail would go beyond 55 Lawton Road is still up for discussion. While most of the railroad bed from Route 44 to Simsbury still exists, much of it is now in private ownership, officials said.
But even without the path, the roads are widely recognized as a state bike route and used by many road cyclists. The town plans to add "sharrows" or painted bike symbols on portions of Lawton and Dry Bridge Roads. The symbols are designed to help alert motorists to the presence of bicycles.