After presenting their preliminary study findings to the Fire Commission two weeks ago, Cabezas DeAngelis Engineers and Surveyors did the same before Town Council and the public July 20, where cost estimations were presented as well.

Representatives Washington Cabezas and Chris DeAngelis spoke at length about the details of the survey, including property lines and other issues like trees and power lines. The firm recommended that sidewalks on the east side of the road would be the best option. Assistant Director of Public Works Tiger Mann also revealed cost estimates for sidewalk installation on the west or east side, with granite or concrete curbing.

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Sidewalks with granite curbing along the east side would cost $680,000 compared to $780,000 on the west side.

Substitute concrete curbing, and the cost drops to $440,000 on the east side and $550,000 on the west. Mann also estimated an option where there would only be curbing in the necessary areas where no grass shelves exist.

In that case, granite curbing on the east side would cost $550,000 as opposed to $685,000 on the west. With concrete curbing, the estimate again drops to $415,000 on the east and $530,000 on the west. Mann said that all cost estimates include a 15 percent contingency for tree removal.

Town Council will vote on whether to move forward with the final design work on either the east or west side of Main Street, most likely after the public hearing held Wednesday after press time. The cost of the final design is included in the $25,000 amount initially given to Cabezas DeAngelis Engineers and Surveyors.

The Police and Fire Commissions supported the plans as they currently stand from the firm with east side recommendations.

"Very simply, the police commission is willing to accept these plans as they stand, providing for two 12-foot travel lanes with at least two-foot wide shoulders for Main Street with a potential sidewalk on the east side as opposed to the west side because of safety for fire vehicles responding to calls," Police Commissioner Jim Cole said to the council.

Regardless of east or west sides, the study states the roads would have a 28-foot wide cross section split into 12-foot lanes with two-foot shoulders.

The sidewalks are expected to be five feet wide, with a 36-inch median. Of those 36 inches, 30 inches would be a grass strip, while six inches would make up the wide curb.

When comparing installation on the east or west side, there were less complication on the east side according to DeAngelis.

On the west side there are five potential property line conflicts as opposed to four of them on the east side. There were also issues with the retaining walls, which would be easier on the east side.

"Also, it was found that due to the steep embankment condition that exists in several areas along the west side, that there would be many more retaining walls necessary if the sidewalk were placed on the west side," DeAngelis said in the report.

Chief Ed Karl expressed his initial satisfaction with the plan, concerning fire truck safety, at a Fire Commission meeting two weeks ago.

"With everything I've been told tonight, (what) I've heard is that this will be between a somewhat improvement to a significant improvement to what we have now," Karl said at the end of the presentation.

"Having the road width wider is going to make it easier for the fire trucks to get through, not only for our trucks going out to calls on the south side of town, but also for Norwalk's trucks if we have something significant downtown, they will be able to get into town more safely."

In a letter to Town Council this week, Roger Williams, chairman of the fire commission, reiterated some of those same points.

"With hard curbing on the East side, the resulting `S' curve was improved over current conditions for the safe passage of fire trucks. The radius of the curve was decreased (straightened, if you will), allowing for easier maneuvering of our trucks, the road way was widened from the current 26 feet to at least 28 feet, and there was a `run off' ability on the west side for cars to pull over to allow our trucks to safely pass while we are proceeding southbound on Main Street," Williams said in the letter. "Should the council proceed with plans for hard curbing on Main Street, it is the opinion of the fire commission that the east side of Main Street would be the preferable location from a public safety perspective."

Regarding fire truck passage, the study showed favorable conditions on both the east and the west sides. The firm used a fire truck from the Newtown Fire Department, one with similar dimensions to a New Canaan ladder truck, to navigate the S-curve of the road and still stay within the 12-foot lane when traveling south toward emergencies.

However, the east side still held an advantage since it would leave the west side uncurbed and allow drivers to pull over towards the grassy area in the event of an emergency, particularly when the trucks are heading south as they normally do.

The sidewalk issue has gone through several public meetings and a referendum during the past few months. The divisive subject stemmed from the proposal to install new sidewalks on Main Street using bonded funds.

The New Canaan Citizens for Responsible Spending wanted the entire $4 million bond to be used for road paving, not installing new sidewalks. Since a final approval has not been made on sidewalks, the CRS decided to put the whole bond, the source of funding for the initiative, to a referendum, which was defeated by a vote of 1,788 to 1,541 April 27.

Town Council held another public hearing on the issue Wednesday, after this issue went to press.