Democratic state senators have proposed connecting two major trails in the state to create the Central Connecticut Loop Trail.
The cost is unknown and a Republican senator questioned how construction of a connection between the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail and the Air Line Trail would be funded.
State Sen. Mary Abrams, a Democrat who represents Meriden, Cheshire and surrounding towns, joined two other Democratic senators, Matt Lesser and Norm Needleman, to propose a bill that would authorize the commissioners of Transportation and Energy and Environmental Protection to plan, design and build the trail connection.
The new connector trail would run from the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail in Cheshire through Meriden, Middletown, Portland and East Hampton to join the Air Line Trail.
Democratic senators said it could help economic development efforts as well as provide more opportunities for residents to walk and bike through the state.
“It brings together a lot of the different trails. It would come to be more than 100 total miles stretched across the state and really showcase central Connecticut,” Abrams said.
She testified before the General Assembly’s transportation committee on Wednesday along with other senators and a Cheshire resident, Jim Jinks, who is advocating for greater bike access in the region.
Abrams said she hopes for a favorable committee vote so that the plan can be discussed by the General Assembly. She’s not sure about the cost of the project, something that would be determined if the proposal moved forward. The exact route would also be determined if the bill gains support.
State Sen. Rob Sampson, a Republican representing Cheshire, Southington and surrounding towns, said funding was his first concern.
“How do we pay for that given the current economics of our state?” he asked. “Our focus has to be on what really matters to Connecticut residents right now, which is how to restore our state’s economy without making it more uncomfortable to live here.”
Sampson frequently uses the trails but wasn’t sure if this year was the right time to add to them.
“We need to take care of our existing infrastructure too,” he said.
Abrams said the trail connection would help businesses and possibly property values.
“I think the cost is minimal compared to the benefit,” she said. “I hope that becomes clear to everyone.”
Read more articles like this and help support local journalism by subscribing to the Record Journal.
Unlimited Digital Access just 99¢
Read more articles like this by subscribing to the Record Journal.
Unlimited Digital Access for just 99¢