Transportation projects could revive struggling downtowns

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Millions of dollars are going to 11 Connecticut towns for transit oriented development projects.

Governor Dannel Malloy announced the grants at a news conference in New Britain at the Fastrack Bus Station.

He said investing in transportation is the key to attracting the best businesses and top talent to the state.

“We have got to demonstrate that we take this issue of transportation seriously,” said Malloy. “These projects are about much more than our transportation system. They’re about building stronger communities where people and businesses want to be.”

More than $1.8 Million will go to Windsor Locks to build three parking lots and a retaining wall across from the proposed train station on Main Street.

First Selectmen Chris Kervick says the state investment is spurring new business, including the sale of the long vacant Montgomery Mill to Boston-area developers hoping to build 160 apartments.

“That doesn’t happen unless the Governor and (Transportation) Commissioner make the decision to move the train station back downtown,” said Kervick.  “They’ve been very frank with us about that, that they wouldn’t even considered that site without that.”

It’s also bringing hope to some of the small business owners on the street.

Tina Salvatore owns Tina’s Cake Emporium, a bakery across from the vacant mill.

She’s is a lifelong Windsor Locks resident who traded in an accounting career to pursue her dream of owning a bakery two years ago.

She remembers the days when Main Street was the bustling center of town and is hopeful the development will bring the area back to life.

“I can’t wait for them to start actually the 160 apartments that are going be there. It’s going to be wonderful for this town,” said Salvatore. “I think this place can be really great again, like it used to be a long, long, long time ago.”

The project to re-develop the Montgomery Mill is expected to cost $62 Million and should take about 18 months to complete.

Below are the projects receiving state grants:

 

Berlin – Property Acquisition for Transit-Oriented Development: $536,884 to acquire property at 861 Farmington Avenue and the rail spur property adjacent to the Berlin Steel Site. These acquisitions are intended to assist in environmental cleanup efforts underway by the town and to expand redevelopment opportunities in the vicinity of the train station.

Clinton – Wastewater System Design for Former Unilever Factory: $55,000 to design an on-site wastewater disposal system for the former Unilever Factory property, a 300,000 square-foot facility on 25 acres directly adjacent to the Clinton Train Station, which serves Shore Line East. This funding will enable the surveying, testing, design, and engineering of a wastewater disposal system intended to facilitate a transit-oriented development-style redevelopment of the property.

East Windsor – Planning for Storm-Water Management and Village Center Redevelopment in Warehouse Point: $123,800 to develop a storm-water management plan and establish new zoning recommendations and other guidelines to promote the village-style redevelopment in Warehouse Point. The resulting storm-water master plan will inform land use and zoning recommendations intended to promote village-scale improvements based on conventional complete streets and smart growth principles. A portion of this funding is dedicated toward providing public workshops and additional outreach to keep citizens informed throughout the process.

Madison – Bradley Road Pedestrian Improvements: $200,000 to construct pedestrian infrastructure improvements along Bradley Road extending from the train station to Wall Street, including new sidewalk construction, sidewalk widening, accessible curb ramps, and marked crosswalks. Madison received a 2016 Responsible Growth and Transit-Oriented Development Grant award for improvements to the Tunxis Walkway, and the small section of Bradley Road connecting the walkway to the train station. These two grant awards, combined with other improvements, will create a contiguous sidewalk network in a large portion of Madison Center and the area surrounding the train station.

New Britain – Columbus Boulevard Pedestrian Infrastructure Improvements: $1,999,500 to continue with Phase VII of the city’s planned, multi-phased redevelopment of the business district area adjacent to the downtown CTfastrak station. This phase will extend pedestrian infrastructure improvements along a portion of Columbus Boulevard and Chestnut Street, including sidewalks, lighting, and way-finding.

Norwalk – East Avenue Transit-Oriented Development Plan: $125,000 for analysis and development of a Transit-Oriented Development Plan for the area surrounding the East Avenue rail station. The planning study will analyze existing conditions, opportunities and constraints in order to develop a clear framework and vision for the future of the area, and establish guidelines for design and development.
Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments – Regional Bike and Pedestrian Plan: $239,050 to develop a unified pedestrian and bicycle improvement plan for the region that identifies and incorporates local planning needs, as well as each municipality’s contribution to the broader network. In addition to bike and pedestrians planning, this project will include a focus on integrating these modes with the local transit network. Activities shall include, but are not limited to, existing conditions analysis and data collection, public outreach, and the development and publishing of a final report.

Stratford – Complete Street Technical Design: $450,000 to complete the technical design of complete streets improvements along a portion of Main Street from Barnum Avenue, south to East Broadway. This project is one of several identified as high-priority in the town’s 2017 Complete Streets Plan, and is intended to enhance access and safety for bicyclists and pedestrians. Upon completing the technical designs, the town will be positioned to begin implementing the necessary improvements. Approximately $250,000 of the total grant award will set-aside to cover costs associated with any environmental contamination discovered within the project boundary.

Wallingford – Downtown Transit-Oriented Development Facilitation Project: $175,000 to fund the planning and engineering design for pedestrian improvements along North Colony Street and Hall Avenue, including sidewalk, streetscape, and traffic-related changes. The project will evaluate various options and costs for improving pedestrian connectivity between the downtown and the new train station, including the development of conceptual engineering designs, cost estimates, and a final report summarizing preferred alternatives. This study will build on the recommendations of the town’s recently updated Plan of Conservation and Development and recently completed Transit-Oriented Development Plan.

Winchester – Downtown Improvements: $601,224 to fund planning and construction improvements in downtown Winsted. A portion of this funding will be used to design and construct upgrades to Whiting Street to address chronic flooding, pedestrian connectivity, parking and traffic calming. The remainder of the funding will be used for the study and technical design of pedestrian and traffic improvements in the Bridge Street/Depot Street/Main Street area.

Windsor Locks – Main Street Transit-Oriented Development Implementation, Phase II: $1,847,400 for the construction of a retaining wall and surface parking lot intended to support the redevelopment of three parcels in the Main Street Commercial District, across from the new train station. This grant will build on the state’s previous investment in transit-oriented development within Windsor Locks, as well as the town’s continuing efforts to position these properties for redevelopment in-line with the town’s new transit-oriented development-inspired Main Street Overlay Zone regulations.

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