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Norwalk leaders celebrate $1.4 million federal funding for West Rocks sidewalks

Gov. Ned Lamont speaks Monday at a press conference called to mark a $1.4 million federal grant secured by U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Greenwich).

NORWALK, Conn. — Gov. Ned Lamont and local officials stood Monday near an uneven pockmarked asphalt sidewalk next to West Rocks Middle School, highlighting the federal funds coming the City’s way to fix that particular piece of crumbling pedestrian infrastructure – and all the other sidewalks on the road.

“There has to be a sense of livable city, and that’s what Congressman Himes was able to do with this $1.4 million grant,” Lamont said.

Nearly 3 miles of sidewalk on France Street and West Rocks Road will be redone through the federal Community Project Funding (CPF) funding, which U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Greenwich) said “used to be called earmarks,” a process that “has been reformed now, such that any request for an earmark is now by law disclosed by whoever asks it.”

“I’m just thrilled to death that we can that we can bring a little bit of federal money to really transform a neighborhood here in the in the city of Norwalk, and we just need to keep this up. We need to commit at the federal, state and municipal level to keep building out Norwalk in the kind of way that makes it really the vibrant community that every resident of Norwalk deserves,” Himes said.

“This effort would not be possible without him,” Mayor Harry Rilling said.

Rilling observed that the work will build new sidewalks from Route 1 to Route 7, a corridor identified as a priority in the 2012 Pedestrian & Bikeway Transportation Plan. There are two schools in the corridor and the City is committed to improving safe routes to schools, he said.

“A study of the California SRTS program has shown that providing sidewalks is one of the most effective engineering measures in encouraging children to walk to school,” the Safe Routes to School Online Guide states.

Gov. Ned Lamont poses with West Rocks Middle School students, all wearing sunglasses handed out by Norwalk Director of Transportation, Mobility, and Parking James Travers. They signify “the future is bright,” Travers said.

Norwalk children who live within two miles of a school are ineligible to take the bus. More than 200 West Rocks Middle School students either have to find transportation from a family member or get to school themselves, either by walking or taking the bus, said Principal Adam Reynolds at Monday’s event.

“This project and new sidewalks will enable all of those 200 – and plus, hopefully we can get a few more on there – to walk to and from school safely,” Reynolds said.

State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) said one of the reasons it was “so great is that Congressman Himes able to get this funding for us” is that “everybody in the United States helps pay for these two miles of sidewalks.”

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Greenwich) speaks Monday on West Rocks Road.

Connecticut taxpayers disproportionately contribute to the federal budget, and CPF process means that local communities decide how to spend funds, not federal bodies, Himes said. “This is an opportunity for us to get just a little piece of that back to transform our cities, our towns, and our neighborhoods.”

“Some of these sidewalks have been neglected for the better part of 50 years,” Duff said.

Norwalk continues to need aid and support from the federal and state government to upgrade its sidewalks, Rilling said. The Norwalk Transportation, Mobility and Parking Department (TMP) is completing an inventory and assessment of every sidewalk in the City to advance the effort to repair deficiencies.

As streets are designed and built we are making sure sidewalks are part of the discussion so that we can continue to build a community that is safer, has greater walkability and equitable transportation choices for everyone.

In 2020, the City invested $2.7 million in new sidewalks for Woodward Avenue and Ohio Avenue.

The federal money for West Rocks and France came via a grant application speedily submitted last year, shortly after Director of Transportation, Mobility, and Parking James Travers came on the job.

Travers said Monday that TMP has already completed a Request for Proposals (RFP) for design work on the project, ahead of the final federal appropriation in the 2022-23 budget.

“The minute that the funds become available, our goal is to be the first project completed from any of the appropriations done by the Congress,” Travers said.

Reynolds said it’s also a lesson in government for the West Rocks students, “about how our earmarks changed names to Community Project and now how we advocate for federal funding to increase access in our community, versus local funding for taxpayers, and our appreciative of what everyone’s doing for us.”

Comments

5 responses to “Norwalk leaders celebrate $1.4 million federal funding for West Rocks sidewalks”

  1. DryAsABone

    It never hurts to grab some of the pork being passed around but it is a sad thing that a community like Norwalk has to use Federal money for what some might consider basic infrastructure that has been neglected for fifty+ years.
    That is what we get when we spend the bulk of our revenue on wages, benefits and pensions.

  2. DrewT

    Nice Job Jim and Election Year gimmicks! WOW! $1.4 Million for sidewalks. Now that’s money we’ll spent..NOT! And funny how all the sheep just stood there like they are told. Good thing we don’t like need money for a hundred other projects and oh wait! SCHOOLS! While Hines was in town did anyone ask him for the extra $30-$50 Million for Bob Duff High?! And here’s a thought maybe some Red Light Cameras to catch people like Duff blowing red lights or slows cameras for him as well as he was speeding through a neighborhood yesterday. But don’t get to comfy there Jimmy, your time is up and Jaymee will be taking that seat from you in November!

  3. Shari Brennan

    Great news. How about some work done on Ward Street and Aiken where many children walk on way to the surrounding schools? Also many seniors walk there from senior housing. Very dangerous.
    Is there a town dept where we can submit requests? Thanks.

  4. Patrick Cooper

    “Rilling observed that the work will build new sidewalks from Route 1 to Route 7, a corridor identified as a priority in the 2012 Pedestrian & Bikeway Transportation Plan. There are two schools in the corridor and the City is committed to improving safe routes to schools, he said.”

    It’s 2.8 miles from the Mobil on France to the Shell at the base of West Rocks at Route 7 (the worst intersection in North America). However, Harry needs to take a closer look – there are three schools in that corridor. Obviously he got West Rocks down – every other November he slobbers over innocent people begging for votes. But curious – did he forget All Saints? Or did he forget Winston Prep?

    Next up – Freudian slip by Himes? “We need to commit at the federal, state and municipal level to keep building out Norwalk in the kind of way that makes it really the vibrant community that every resident of Norwalk deserves,” Himes said.”

    Keep “building out” Norwalk. Yes – Hartford has plans for Norwalk – but listening to the opinions of taxpaying residents is optional.

  5. Mitch Adis

    Take the money and say thank you.

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