DOT Says At Public Forum On Busway Plan That It Is Moving Forward
By AMANDA FALCONE
November 16, 2010
Although many still oppose the proposed $572 million New Britain-to-Hartford busway, the state is moving forward with the project and hopes to begin construction in West Hartford next spring.
Representatives from the state Department of Transportation and engineers from URS Corp., the Rocky Hill-based company working on the project, went to the Elmwood Community Center on Tuesday to talk about plans for the 9.6-mile busway, which will run through West Hartford, New Britain, Newington and Hartford.
West Hartford would have stations at New Park Avenue at Flatbush and New Britain avenues.
The officials also spoke about plans for a $60 million Flatbush Avenue flyover bridge that would carry traffic over the busway.
The Flatbush Avenue area is expected to be under construction for two years. Detours will be limited, and drivers will probably be asked to go through the nearby Walmart shopping plaza to avoid construction, URS engineers said.
The engineers said they were trying to minimize the impact of construction. For example, plans now call for a substantial amount of work to be done at night, except in residential areas.
Tuesday's meeting was attended by more than 50 people, and most were concerned about how construction would affect local businesses. Flatbush Avenue is a main road in West Hartford that has an average of 20,000 vehicles a day.
Jodi O'Connor, general manager of Jo-Di's on New Park Avenue, wondered if the construction would hurt her family's mobile electronics business.
"Now that I know more, I'm more concerned," she said, after hearing about detours, seeing a construction schedule and learning that the town might get more train traffic because of a state proposal for commuter rail.
The state still has to secure funding before it can start construction, said state Rep. David McCluskey, D-West Hartford, an opponent of the busway, but a supporter of the flyover bridge project.
The bulk of the funding would come from the federal government and more than $240 million has not been approved yet, he said. With new leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives, McCluskey questioned whether Connecticut will ever get that money.
Once work in West Hartford begins, Stephanie Brooks, of Michael Baker Engineering Inc., which is also working on the project, said she, or an appointed community liaison, would keep the community informed about the project. Brooks also said she would communicate with people through social media and the project's website, http://www.ctrapidtransit.com, which is not yet active.
A citizens' advisory group for the busway project will also meet regularly, and signs letting people know that businesses are still open will be strategically placed in town, she said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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