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September 26, 2016 Reporter's Notebook

Hartford’s Pratt St. makeover nearly done

HBJ PHOTO | Gregory Seay Viewed from Trumbull Street westward to Main, work on Pratt Street was still underway on Sept. 21.

The sight of construction and work crews along Pratt Street in downtown Hartford since April has been frustrating for merchants, landlords, motorists and pedestrians.

But the city says the approximately $1 million resurfacing of the one-way thoroughfare linking Main and Trumbull streets is on schedule and nearly finished.

City Hall spokeswoman Diana Tomezsko said via email Sept. 20 that the remaining work involves replacing some of the remaining granite pavers with bricks within the next two weeks.

“This is within the timeframe originally negotiated between the city and its contractor,'' Tomezsko said.

Pratt Street's upgrades included more than just new pavers, she said. While the street was torn up, Comcast laid a high-speed, fiber-optic cable beneath it, infrastructure valued at $250,000, Tomezsko said. In addition, Aetna contributed $400,000 toward the work bill.

City officials, including the Public Works Department, met Sept. 15 with a few dozen Pratt merchants and landlords, to update them about the streetscape work and hear their concerns.

Attendee Gerry Grate, owner of The Tobacco Shop, 89 Pratt St., said his is one of a number of Pratt Street businesses that have lost foot traffic and sales during the makeover. They insisted on meeting with the city, Grate said, because “there has been no transparency, no communication'' with them about the streetwork and a timetable for completion.

“We got answers to some of our questions,'' said Grate, past president of Business for Downtown Hartford, an advocacy group.

Meanwhile, Pratt merchants' pitch to the city about closing the street to vehicular traffic on weekends, so they can set up merchandise curbside to cater to pedestrians, is being reviewed by the city, Tomezsko said.

“We will continue to work with merchants and property owners to reflect their feedback in our final decision,'' she said. “Our first priority is to complete the construction.

– Gregory Seay

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