June 6, 2020

Decisions Still Pending on Chester Main Street Project

CHESTER— Main Street in the downtown village will be improved and reconstructed around the same time as two state funded bridge replacement projects, but decisions are still pending on the exact scope and cost of the town funded work on Main Street.

That was the message Wednesday as about 40 residents turned out at the Chester Meeting House for the first public information meeting held by the Main Street Committee, an 11-member group appointed by the board of selectmen last fall to coordinate the Main Street improvement project. Committee Chairman Michael Joplin and other members presented the latest information on the project. The committee recently conducted a mail-in survey to help gather opinions from residents on the extent of the town-funded project.

While noting the bridge replacements and the Main Street reconstruction are separate projects, Joplin said the goal is to begin the Main Street work around the same time as the bridge projects. Joplin said the state Department of Transportation will hold a public information meeting on the first project, replacement of the Water Street bridge, on Thursday Feb. 16 at the Chester Meeting House.

Work on the Water Street bridge project is expected to begin this summer, with a temporary closing of Water Street expected to begin this fall. Replacement of the Main Street bridge over Pattaconk Brook is expected to begin in 2014.

Committee member Chuck Mueller said the committee and board of selectmen, along with the town as a whole, must decide on the extent of the Main Street reconstruction. Mueller said options include focusing on Main Street in the immediate downtown area, near the bridge and intersection with West Main Street (Route 148), or extending the improvements east on Main Street to the intersection with Route 154, and up sections of Water Street, and North Main Street to the location of the Norma Terrace Theatre.

Mueller said the town currently has $440,000 set aside for the project, including a state Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant. The cost of the project could be significantly higher depending on the extent of the improvements. Committee member Steve Tiezzi said the town could apply for additional state grants after the extent of the project is determined.

Residents at the meeting also discussed the option of relocating electric power lines underground, instead of overhead, for a portion of the project area. Joplin said relocating the power lines underground would cost at least $3 million.