NORWALK, Conn. — The public comment period isn’t over, but the Connecticut Department of Transportation has already submitted a revised permit application, seeking to use Manresa Island in the Walk Bridge project.
Norwalk Harbor Management Commissioners have protested this move, asking the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) not to take action on the permit. They also complain that they have been bypassed, as has the Shellfish Commission – the permit was submitted without completed consultation forms from those Commissions, Norwalk Harbor Management Commission Chairman John Romano and Commissioner John Pinto said in a letter to DEEP.
ConnDOT has proposed that it use part of Manresa Island to build the lift towers for the new Walk Bridge. A public hearing was held June 16, via the Internet, and the public comment period ends Friday. The revised Structures, Dredging and Fill and Tidal Wetlands permit application was submitted Friday, June 26.
ConnDOT Director of Communications Kevin Nursick said ConnDOT “has been and remains very much committed to an open process of public and stakeholder input throughout the design and construction phases of the Walk Bridge Project.”
“To date we have had multiple public informational meetings, stakeholder meetings and consultations, and we certainly expect more to take place in the future,” Nursick said.
The permit application was originally submitted to DEEP in September and has been pending since that time, Nursick said. The June 26 revisions “actually represent a reduction in direct impact area to the river as well as fewer navigational channel closures – which was shared with various local stakeholders.”
Nursick said that the feedback and questions submitted in the public hearing “did not reveal new information or challenges that were not already being addressed through our coordination with the various regulatory agencies. In some cases, questions raised were topics not regulated by CTDEEP under the SD&F (Structures, Dredge and Fill) permit application. There are other permit applications that still must be submitted to CTDEEP as well as other federal agencies.”
The letter from Romano and Pinto asks DEEP to let ConnDOT’s application sit until ConnDOT describes the proposed changes to the two Commissions and take questions, in a public meeting. They also request time for the two Commissions to submit written comments.
They also complain that ConnDOT conducted a docking and maneuverability exercise involving the Norwalk Maritime Aquarium and Norwalk Seaport Association vessels on June 17. The Harbor Management Commission and Harbor Master Greg Scully have been given no information, although they had requested that a professional risk assessment for the proposed vessel operations.
Nursick said, “As mentioned above, we fully expect additional public informational meetings, stakeholder meetings, and discussions with other entities as the project progresses. We also are planning a meeting in late July or early August” with the Harbor Management Commission and the Shellfish Commission.