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Norwalk’s Transportation Department Highlights Projects Funded with $40 Million+ in Grants

A look at the Wall Street Corridor Improvement project. (Courtesy of Norwalk TMP)

In 2023, the Transportation, Mobility, and Parking department used more than $40 million in grant funding to help launch projects across the city—from the redesign of Wall Street to improvements in the Hospital Hill neighborhood, from adding sidewalks in Rowayton to finishing the missing link section of the Norwalk RNorwalk iver Valley Trail.

“We are trying to affect everything across the transportation network,” Jim Travers, the head of Norwalk’s Transportation, Mobility, and Parking (TMP) department, told the Economic and Community Development Committee of the Common Council on February 1.

Travers gave the committee highlights from a 30+ page report that outlined all the work the department did over the previous years. 

Wall Street

For decades, the Wall Street has been something residents and city officials talked about redoing, Travers said, but thanks to planning and funding, work will officially break ground in the spring.

“Wall Street was something that we started really early on,” he said. “It morphed from a $350k [design grant] to what we’re looking at is $27 million in construction, which we have $21 million funded.”

Garrett Bolella, the assistant director of TMP, said that Norwalk is doing something really unique here in “redefining what was once their historic downtown.”

“This is a really massive project,” he said. 

The goals of the project include: creating safer intersections; making biking and walking safer and more comfortable; widening sidewalks; providing opportunities for seating, outdoor dining, and gathering areas; creating better connections to citywide bike routes and walking trails; adding street trees, landscaping, and greenspace; improving the Norwalk Transit bus hub; and enhancing the appearance of the Yankee Doodle garage.

The department plans to host a community meeting early this year to present the final plans with construction starting later in the year. One of the first phases of the work is going before the Public Works Committee on Tuesday, February 6, he said. 

Adaptive Signals

Travers said that Norwalk was the “first city in the state to adopt adaptive signal technology” for traffic lights, which allow them to help move traffic more effectively. 

“Adaptive learns the traffic,” he said. “It can be more responsive to addressing the traffic issues.”

The city is currently upgrading eight signals to adaptive signals on West Avenue and Belden Avenue from Cross Street to Orchard Street to “allow for better signal timing and traffic flow through the corridor.” The report also noted that traffic signals are getting upgraded and modernized at “four critical intersections”—East Avenue at Eversley Avenue, East Avenue at St. John Street, West Avenue at Garner Street and West Avenue at 20 West Avenue.

Washington Street Overheight Detection System

The Metro North bridge that runs over the South Main Street–Washington Street intersection is “frequently struck by trucks,” so the department is working on designing a “state-of-the-art detection system” through the Local Roads Accident Reduction Program to alert drivers of the bridge. 

Biking and Walking Connections

The long talked about “missing link” section of the Norwalk River Valley Trail, which connects Union Park to New Canaan Avenue is officially complete, Travers said.

“I think people are very excited to make that happen,” he said. 

Travers also touted that through a community connectivity grant, the city has completed a 10.5-mile marked bike route—the longest on any state road in Connecticut. There’s a North-South Bike Connection, from New Canaan to Rowayton and one that runs west to east from Rowayton to Westport. 

In addition, Travers said that the “long-awaited sidewalk from Rowayton Village to the Rowayton Train Station” wil be “in by summer. He noted that Council member Lisa Shanahan took him and Bolella around on their first week on the job to show why this project is important. 

“Our commitment to sidewalks is pretty great,” he said. 

Route 1 Corridor Study

In addition to the work already underway for some of the larger projects, like Wall Street, Travers said the city is in the final stages of selecting a consultant to do the Route 1 Corridor study. 

Travers said that Route 1 is a “regional destination hub” with big box retailers and other shopping that people want to get to, and so there’s a “tremendous amount of people trying to use that space.”

He noted that the area has very active bus stops, but disconnected making it challenging and dangerous for someone who takes the bus to work on Connecticut Avenue or takes it to go to the doctors or shopping to get to their final destinations. There’s also limited bus shelters, meaning in bad weather people are waiting for buses in the rain and snow. 

Council members praised the department for its ambitious work. 

“Millions and millions of dollars [are] coming into this city to do the work that has been needed for so long,” Council member Barbara Smyth said. “ This is the kind of work that will transform our city and it’s just incredible.”

Council member Jim Frayer also praised the department while asking if they could sustain this type of grant application and funding or was this year an outlier.

Travers said that while they anticipate continuing to apply for grants and create great projects, it is a little bit of an anomaly due to the fact that there is an extraordinary amount of federal funding available.

“This administration has really put forth transportation dollars like no other administration has,” he said. 

The full TMP report is available on the city’s website.

Comments

3 responses to “Norwalk’s Transportation Department Highlights Projects Funded with $40 Million+ in Grants”

  1. Bryan Meek

    Trust us. This time the $ millions blown on adaptive signaling are going to work.

    Pay no attention to all the relatively new lights on West Ave or Main and Wall that had the same kind of funding but never worked. Pay no attention to the ones the state has put in that turn red on the traffic lanes and green with no cars like East Ave at Westport Ave.

    How many times do we have to pay and pay again for the same promises?

    Multiply these overpriced project times the 1000s of them like this across the country and you can begin to understand why inflation is not going away any time soon.

  2. Bryan Meek

    $850,000 for ONE intersection. Thats more than the median price of a house here for 24 light bulbs, a mast arm, a few electric eyes, and some basic programming.

    For less than $1000 you can buy software that controls 1000s of Christmas lights, but this is how government rolls.

  3. Johnny+cardamone

    We definitely need more bus shelters! I feel badly when I see people waiting for a bus out in the elements!

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