WALLINGFORD — The Town Council on Wednesday accepted a $400,000 state grant to help build and install a pedestrian bridge along the northern part of the Quinnipiac River Linear Trail.
The bridge would allow pedestrians and bicyclists to reach the trail right-of-way that connects to Main Street in Yalesville.
The linear trail begins at Community Lake Park on Hall Avenue and runs north to Fireworks Island.
Currently, trail users have a vehicular right to pass through the Yalesville on the Green condominiums, 380 Main St., over their bridge to access Fireworks Island and the trail, but no pedestrians or bicycles may pass over the bridge.
Councilor John LeTourneau was the only dissenting vote. He said he objected to accepting the grant, nearly half a million dollars, when the state is not well financially.
“We hear at budget time what we can’t afford,” LeTourneau said, adding that the trail “is a great project for great times. We’re not there yet, the state is still floundering.”
Additionally, he said he felt it was hazardous for the trail to end on Main Street in Yalesville.
The trail would connect to the public sidewalk, said Town Engineer Rob Baltramaitis, not the roadway directly.
The linear trail is actually a safety enhancement, Baltramaitis said, because it provides an alternative to walking or biking on Route 150.
The cost is approximately $1 million for bridge and trail work.
On July 25, the State Bond Commission approved funding from the Department of Transportation’s Community Connectivity Grant program. The program is aimed at improving infrastructure for pedestrian and bicycle transportation, according to the program website.
The DOT began notifying towns in August, and Wallingford received a grant for $400,000, the maximum amount available.
Councilor Jason Zandri said while he agrees with LeTourneau’s concerns about accepting state money during a rough economic time, he hasn’t heard any pushback from residents on accepting state grants.
“I have heard plenty of people tell me, ‘I can’t wait for this to get done,’” Zandri said. “If we didn’t put in for the money, somebody else would take it, and I’m glad we’re taking it, because again I haven’t heard anybody oppose it.”
Additional funding sources include approximately $140,000 from the nonprofit Friends of the Linear Trail Inc., $120,000 from a state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection grant to the Quinnipiac River Linear Trail Advisory Committee and about $390,000 that was allocated for linear trail Phase 3 construction.
Baltramaitis said when he saw the DOT grant solicitation, “I knew that this project… fit this grant like a glove.”
He said the town has completed engineering assessments on how to best cross Fireworks Island. The bridge would utilize present easements to the condominiums and complete the trail to the public sidewalk.
The bridge has not been designed or permitted yet, but Baltramaitis said he plans to begin immediately.
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