Bond commission approves $775K for trail project

(AP) – The Connecticut State Bond Commission approved $1.1 billion in projects on Friday.

It marked the first meeting of the new fiscal year, which began July 1, and only the second during 2021. Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont, who chairs the commission and has imposed a so-called “debt diet” for state borrowing, suggested he’s easing up on that stance.

“I’d say it’s a pretty robust agenda for what could be a pretty robust year when it comes to bonding,” he said. “The reason being, I think this is a unique time to be making investments in the state right now.”

Among the grant funding requests approved was $775,000 for urban bikeway, pedestrian connectivity, trails and alternative mobility programs at the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail connections to Norton Park in Plainville.

A news release from the Connecticut Department of Transportation, dated June 2, states, “The purpose of the project is to is to construct a multi-use trail known as the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail (FCHT) through Plainville in order to close the final remaining gap in the Connecticut section of trail. The Connecticut share of the FCHT consists of a 54-mile section connecting New Haven through Suffield, terminating at the Massachusetts border. The entirety of the Connecticut trail section is either complete, in construction, or approaching final design, excluding the remaining 5-mile gap in Plainville.”

About $600 million of the borrowing approved Friday was earmarked for general obligation bonds — money that will be spent on a wide range of projects such as improvements to the State Pier in New London. The site is being redeveloped into an offshore wind hub.

Funding was also approved for infrastructure improvements at community health centers and mental health and substance abuse providers, grants for new walking trails and pedestrian walkways, state information technology upgrades, sound amplification in state courtrooms, asbestos removal in state buildings, and affordable housing and energy efficiency projects.

The panel approved an additional $20 million to continue helping homeowners in northeastern Connecticut replace their crumbling foundations, and $300 million in local school building projects.

Tucked into a list of funding for local projects, such as the construction of four playscapes in West Haven, was $2.5 million to defray much of the $3.7 million that voters in Newtown approved in April to construct a memorial to the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.

Meanwhile, slightly more than $500 million of the projects approved on Friday are transportation-related, including state and local road, highway and bridge repair work. There’s also funding for rail improvements, and bus and rail facilities.

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