With Construction Imminent, Busway Opponents, Supporters Continue To Debate
By DON STACOM
April 05, 2012
NEW BRITAIN — — State legislators and city leaders say the soon-to-be-constructed busway will mean good times for central Connecticut. But Sedrick Nelson says his up-close view is a lot less rosy.
Looking through his backyard fence to the planned path of the busway, Nelson says he wants no part of it in his neighborhood.
Several neighbors joined him, saying they don't want the extra noise or traffic and are angry that the state is building a mass transit project right at the edge of their backyards without ever speaking with them.
"The day it comes, I'm out," Nelson said from the backyard of his Cottage Place house Thursday afternoon. "The 'for sale' signs go up, I'll take a loss, but I'm not going to live like that."
At a press conference staged on Nelson's front lawn, two outspoken busway opponents, both state legislators, said Nelson isn't alone.
Hundreds of homeowners and merchants along the 9.6-mile busway will soon realize that the long-discussed busway to downtown Hartford is nearing construction — and they'll be plenty unhappy about it, predicted Sen. Joe Markley, R-Southington, and state Rep. Whit Betts, R-Bristol.
"I've said it's a mistake and a waste of money, and now you're going to see the human costs — nice neighborhoods are going to be disrupted, people in other towns don't want it, the labor unions are mad that the [construction] jobs are going out of state," Markley said. "This thing has hardly begun and already it's going to pieces."
Betts and Markley said that before the General Assembly session ends May 9, they'll introduce legislation that will let lawmakers vote to to stop the $569 million project.
"Don't let people tell you it's too late to stop this. It's not," Betts said.
Meanwhile, a little more than a mile away, Mayor Tim O'Brien and Rep. Peter Tercyak, D-New Britain, organized a counter press conference across from the Berkowitz Building, a hulking brick eyesore with dozens of shattered windows and graffiti. Developers will soon be eager to rebuild or replace such abandoned buildings near busway stations, spurring an economic renaissance along the whole route, they said.
"The busway is the right thing to do," O'Brien said. "There are politicians who are trying to make hay in an election year by standing in the way and saying 'no' — they should go back to the state Capitol and work for jobs creation and for more education funding for New Britain."
Tercyak said he envisions buses shuttling visitors from Hartford's convention center to Rock Cats games and museums in New Britain.
"And let me tell you, it's too late to block the busway," Tercyak. "Too late."
The state transportation department noted that the busway has been in the planning stages for more than a decade.
"The exact path of the busway has been public for years now and should come as no surprise to homeowners and businesses along the route. The DOT has held countless public informational meetings and forums on the project - each time with a detailed map," spokesman Judd Everhart said.
"We have answered every conceivable question. Everything is online and transparent. We have done everything possible to minimize property acquisitions and the impact on neighborhoods and property values," he said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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