State lawmakers are seeking funds to engineer and construct the Central Connecticut Loop, a 111-mile trail from the Arrigoni Bridge in Portland to the commuter rail stations in Hartford and Meriden.
Much of the trail is finished in sections, except for 16 miles that needs to be constructed and connected.
The largest portion is the five miles from Middlefield to Meriden.
As part of the effort, Middletown is building a new route through Newfield Road along an abandoned trolley line.
The new Central Connecticut Loop Trail connector will run from the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail in Cheshire through Meriden, Portland and East Hampton to join the Air Line Trail that runs from Bolton to Hartford.
Supporters believe the trail will be a strong attraction for cyclists from in and out-of-state. Because it passes by rail stations in Meriden and Hartford, it would encourage transportation by bicycle and train.
“What’s amazing is how much regional cooperation there is,” said state Sen. Matt Lessor, D-Middletown. “Cities and towns are putting in funding and resources.”
Bike or walk
The Central Connecticut Trail was designated about six months ago through a public act, with no funding attached. The lawmakers are hoping the state Department of Transportation and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will back the plan.
State Sen. Mary Abrams, D-Meriden, supports the project.
“It would allow residents to bike or walk to work in some situations, giving them some increased choice of transportation,” Abrams said in remarks at a public hearing. “It would also lead to economic benefits for the state as it would become a tourist attraction...The trail would facilitate the creation of trailside businesses to serve the trail’s runners, bikers, and walkers.”
The city of Meriden submitted testimony in favor of the plan.
“Connections to surrounding towns has been part of our Linear Trail Master Plan since 2012,” wrote Howard Weissberg, public works director for the city. “Meriden has made significant investments in the Transit-Oriented Development District with Transit Center, the Meriden Green, Pratt Street Gateway and continuing flood control efforts.”
Design is currently underway to connect multi-use trails from the TOD district to Meriden’s linear trails in the southwest portion of the city, Weissberg said.