Monday
Apr212014

NB gets $3M Streetscape grant 

NEW BRITAIN — The city has secured a $3 million grant for improvements to downtown streets, with the assistance of the Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency.

Featuring upgrades on Columbus Boulevard, Main Street and Bank Street, the project will address transportation safety deficiencies and enhance the connection between downtown and the CTfastrak bus station currently under construction.

“This project is one of many that will transform and energize our downtown area, building on the momentum of CTfastrak and modernizing the city’s ageing infrastructure,” said Mayor Erin Stewart. “This sets the stage for economic development in the heart of our city, and is an integral piece that will help make the Busway work.”

Stewart added that the grant is pedestrian-friendly. “It will help us move the buses,” she said. “Local buses are moving over from Bank Street to Columbus Boulevard, making downtown a safer place to walk. It will be easier for those who ride the Busway to get on and off and transfer to other buses.”

Funded through the state’s Accident Reduction Program, the project will improve safety for all road users. The area has a history of motor vehicle accidents, and certain roads can be intimidating for pedestrians — especially those that lack adequate crosswalks and sidewalks.

The project will include redesigning intersections, adding bike lanes and upgrading sidewalks.

These improvements are based on the recommendations of the City’s Complete Streets Master Plan for Downtown New Britain.

The concept of “complete streets” is to design roads that are safe and compatible for all road users — motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians.

The State’s Accident Reduction Program is administered at the regional level through the CCRPA. “CCRPA’s staff did a great job with this grant,” said Robert E. Lee, chairman of the agency’s governing board. “They are always looking for opportunities to get state and federal funding to the region’s municipalities.” Mark Moriarty, the city’s director of public works, said the grant “allows us to reallocate an earlier $1.6 million grant towards the Main Street overpass. It’s not going to fully fund it, but it gets us a good step of the way there. It also brings our total grant money to $9.5 million.” The grant ties all city projects together under the Streetscape program, said Gerry Amodio, New Britain’s downtown district director.

“This is a cohesive grant that allows us to complete projects we start,” Amodio said. “We’re getting close to funding the entire downtown. You can already see the city’s getting better looking.”

Scott Whipple can be reached at (860) 225-4601, ext. 319 or swhipple@centralctcommunications.com

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