By Sharon Challenger.
(June 11, 2021) This morning at 10:00 a.m. Rep. Joe Courtney held a Zoom conference to discuss infrastructure projects that will benefit several Connecticut communities, including Haddam and East Haddam.
Rep. Courtney’s Member Designated Project requests included in the Houses infrastructure funding package are:
- $1.2 million in support for the Coventry Main Street Sidewalk Project, sponsored by the Town of Coventry
- $4.9 million in support for the New London Pedestrian Bridge and Public Access Project, sponsored by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development
- $5 million to complete the East Haddam/Haddam Swing Bridge Rehabilitation Project, sponsored by the Connecticut Department of Transportation
- $2.4 million to complete the Essex River Road Bridge and Sidewalk Project, sponsored by the Town of Essex
- $2.3 million for Pedestrian Safety Improvements along CT-195 (Storrs Road), sponsored by the Town of Mansfield
- $2.2 million to revitalize the Quinebaug River Trail in Plainfield, sponsored by the Town of Plainfield
The following members joined in and were allowed to speak about their town project addressing the needs and benefits of the projects:
- John Elsesser (Town Manager, Coventry)
- Mary Ann Chinatti (Planning & Zoning Supervisor, Plainfield)
- Tony Sheridan (President, Chamber of Commerce, ECT)
- Ryan Aylesworth (Town Manager, Mansfield)
- Bill Warner (Town Planner, Haddam)
- Norm Needleman (First Selectman, Essex)
Haddam Town Planner, Bill Warner spoke to Representative Courtney about how funding to refurbish the Swing bridge will greatly benefit both Haddam and East Haddam.
He emphasized how State and Federal partnerships can be of great aid to local communities. For examples, he cited the problems in Tylerville which have prevented the area from thriving. He stressed that infrastructure spending can improve the lives of people highlighting the gains from funding we received for the Tylerville water project. As a result of the financial aid from both State and Federal governments, the people in Tylerville now have clean drinking water from their taps. This has been a tremendous improvement in the area and changes are already beginning to happen.
He also addressed the dangerous conditions created by vehicles speeding through the intersection of Saybrook Road and CT 82 in attempts to avoid bridge closures. When it is closed for boat traffic it creates a lot of congestion in the area. When it is stuck no one can get across the river and the whole transportation network shuts down.
Other examples of future projects and improvements he spoke about include:
- Refurbishing the 100-year-old East Haddam/Haddam Swing Bridge.
- Building sidewalks along CT 82 from Saybrook Road down to the railroad crossing.
- Construction of a cantilever bridge to allow pedestrians to cross over the river safely.
CT Department of Transportation’s East Haddam Swing Bridge Project initiative will improve safety, access, and operations for vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists traveling on Route 82. This requires major refurbishing of the bridge to extend service life and improve roadway ride-ability for the public. Additionally, it will improve swing span operation reliability thus reducing the number of closures due to mechanical problems.
“One by one we are taking care of issues,” Warner told Courtney. Haddam applied and received a TAP grant from the Federal Government to construct the sidewalks along Bridge Road from Saybrook Road to the railroad tracks. The job is slated to go out to bid in the fall and will be under construction next year. When completed we will be one step closer to having a safe way to walk towards the river and it will help connect things in the area together.
Warner added “we applied for Federal Build Grants for 3 years to create a pedestrian walkway on the bridge.” The money we receive will pay for the sidewalks to continue from the railroad tracks at Goodspeed Station in Haddam, up to the bridge, giving access to a cantilever sidewalk which will be added to the south side of the bridge. On the East Haddam side, another access sidewalk will continue from the bridge to the delivery driveway at the Goodspeed Opera House.
People on both sides of the river have expressed their desire to be able to bicycle or walk across the bridge to enjoy the amenities both towns offer. The improvements will allow actors at Goodspeed in East Haddam to safely walk over and shop in Haddam, and Essex Steam Train passengers and Riverhouse guests can walk over and visit Goodspeed and East Haddam Village.
The estimated time for the project to be completed is three years beginning in the Spring of 2022 through Fall 2024. For more information on the East Haddam Swing Bridge project go to: www.easthaddamswingbridgeproject.com
As a result of the infrastructure improvements, a multi-family apartment complex (80 apartments) will be built in Tylerville. People who will live there will have access to the sidewalks where they can walk to river. Another 40 units development is in the planning stages and P&Z will address this next month. These two housing developments will be our largest taxpayers.
The improvements in infrastructure in Haddam, such as providing clean drinking water, or building sidewalks have drawn the attention of private sector investors. Warner emphasized that “when the government makes the investment the private sector recognizes it and comes along.”
Rep. Courtney thanked Mr. Warner for his presentation and remarked that in this case it is two towns that are working together East Haddam, and Haddam as well as the State of Connecticut. He added that the State Department of Transportation strongly supports the enhancement and that it will give pedestrians the ability to enjoy both areas.