Five months after backing the possible realignment of High and Summer streets, city development officials opted Monday to abandon the proposal.
“It’s a fine idea,” said Jonathan Rosenthal, the city’s economic development director, but there’s no money to buy the necessary property.
“It’s not going further,” he said.
The Bristol Development Authority, which agreed in February to pay $29,250 to Beta Group, a design firm, to work up a plan for fixing up the troubled intersection, unanimously killed the project.
About $20,000 is left in the account following survey work, officials said. That money will be used to bolster the more than $1 million Main Street streetscape project
Rosenthal said the survey work will be helpful in the future so the money spent wasn’t squandered.
The streetscape project is slated to get underway during the fiscal year that begins July 1. It aims to revamp the appearance of Main Street between Riverside Avenue and the top of the hill so that it will roughly match the 2005 North Main Street overhaul.
Officials had hoped to buy at least one of the decrepit apartments at the corner of High and Summer, raze it and straighten out the juncture.
Rosenthal said that because there is no prospect of the city having the cash to purchase the building, demolish it and do the project, it made sense to kill it.
The project has the backing of business and neighborhood groups. The only opposition initially came from city Councilor Craig Minor, who called it “a waste of money” that should be used for more pressing issues.
Rosenthal and other city leaders said that until the project design was done, the city wouldn’t even know how much the realigned intersection would cost.
City officials have long eyed the possibility of razing some of the aging apartments on the west side of Main Street near the library because they have no parking and are so beaten up that they hold little attraction for the young urban professionals the city would like to attract downtown.
The Main Street streetscape, which has funding, would include trees, benches and other pedestrian-friendly improvements.The initial plan includes small plazas, traffic calming measures along the roadway, new sidewalks, distinctive crosswalks and other features similar to what’s been done on North Main Street.
Officials hope that improving the streetscape will lead to more commercial activity and a safer, friendlier environment for residents, a key element for pumping life into the city’s troubled downtown.
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