NORWALK, Conn. – The construction expected this May to upgrade sidewalks and other infrastructure on lower Wall Street is being delayed but a rumor that the City is rejecting a grant is untrue, Norwalk Director of Transportation, Mobility, and Parking James Travers said Monday.
The City is adding bike lanes to the plans and it’s hoped that the bidding process will begin by late summer, he said.
In October, just ahead of the last municipal election, Travers and other City leaders held a press conference promising sweeping infrastructure improvements for the Wall Street area, as soon as possible. The focus was primarily on major changes around West and Belden Avenues, though a finished design wasn’t expected for 12 to 18 months and major grant funding is needed.
Changes to lower Wall were said to be much more imminent.
A $1.5 million Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program (LOTCIP) grant would entirely fund lighting, decorative pavers, traffic and safety improvements, new sidewalks and other infrastructure improvements in approximately 650 linear feet west of Mill Hill, and work would begin in May, said Norwalk Chief of Operations and Public Works Anthony Robert Carr.
That will make that area inviting, said Council member David Heuvelman (D-District A).
A source contacted NancyOnNorwalk last week, passing along a rumor that the City was going to decline the grant and apply for another grant, “a long shot,” and if it came to fruition it would be years.
Not true, Travers said Monday.
“We are most certainly not forgoing the LOTCIP grant,” Travers wrote. “TMP is taking it over and adjusting the scope so that it is consistent with the entire corridor plans. While we have not held community meetings to determine the look and feel of the entire Wall Street corridor, we know very much that the corridor should include bike lanes. There are limited east/west connections in the city and Wall Street in critical to a connected bike network.”
Engineers are designing bike lanes in both directions, he said.
“The project area will remain the same, between Brook St and Main Street,” Travers wrote. “Simultaneously we will design East Wall from Brook to East Ave and incorporate bike lanes in this area as well. We have to do the design and forward it on to CTDOT for review/approval (since they are funding it). We are hopefully to get this to them as quickly as we can and get all the reviews in place to get this out to bid by late summer. We intend to reach out to folks in the area to let them know and will be keeping them apprised as the plans develop.”
While this will “slightly delay” the work described in October as “the first phase” of the major improvements leading to a “reimagined Wall Street,” Travers said, “I think that creating this in the true ‘Complete Streets’ model will have longer term benefits for the corridor and the City. I have already spoken with Bob Buchan at CTDOT about the scope change and he is in favor of us looking at this with a wider lens.”
Efforts toward the larger project are chugging along, according to Travers.
In October, he described the massive reworking of the area as costing $13 to 15 million, of which Mayor Harry Rilling was committing $1.7 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds.
Travers said, “We have already written one grant application for $3.8 million to start the project… We’ve also written a $13 million grant to FEMA to actually do the whole entire project at once.”
On Monday, he wrote, “In terms of funding the additional phases, we have already written two grants to continue the work. While we have not heard back from one of the grants, we have received positive preliminary feedback on a second LOTCIP solicitation that we have submitted.”
TMP has requested $250,000 in the coming capital budget “to complete the design work for the entire corridor,” Travers said. “I am confident that we will not only develop the best plan for the corridor, but we will find a funding source to build what we design. I am fully committed to making this happen.”
Travers said, “I’ll be reaching out to folks in the Wall Street area to alleviate some concerns. TMP and the City are most certainly committed to seeing this project through.”