State grants for transit-oriented development and growth include three Fairfield towns

By Kevin Zimmerman

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Danbury, New Canaan and Westport are Fairfield County’s beneficiaries of a competitive grant program aimed at supporting transit-oriented development and growth to help boost economic activity and create jobs.

The grants fall under the state’s Responsible Growth and Transit-Oriented Development Grant Program, administered by the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) and relying upon a combination of funding from the Responsible Growth Incentive Fund and the Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) and Pre-development Fund.

“Investing in transportation is critical,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. “Transportation and the future of our economy are fundamentally linked. Our focus is on not only improving overall quality of life for residents in these areas, but also encouraging economic development by making our towns and cities more accessible. These grants will help us take another step towards making our state more competitive.”

OPM Secretary Ben Barnes added that the money is designed to “improve pedestrian connections, increase multimodal transportation options, encourage infill development and discourage sprawl. By promoting transportation alternatives, the projects will decrease emissions and road congestion in high traffic areas. This is the type of critical funding that we must continue to invest in our towns and cities.”

Danbury’s Downtown Transit-Oriented Development Planning Study will receive $225,000 to conduct research on land use and transportation conditions in its downtown area, and issue recommendations to further transit-oriented development, responsible growth, and infill development there. The study will also focus on analyzing existing transportation modes of ridership and provide recommendations that promote intermodal coordination and co-location of transit services.

New Canaan’s Downtown Pedestrian Loop-Weed Street Sidewalk Connection will receive $150,000 to construct sidewalks and crosswalks along a portion of Weed Street between Elm Street and Irwin Park. The proposed walkway is within a half-mile from the train station and downtown. The walkway aims to enhance pedestrian access to the train station and decrease the demand for motor vehicles.

Westport’s Saugatuck Station Area TOD Master Plan will receive $440,000 to fund a detailed master plan of the Saugatuck Station Area, including an existing conditions analysis, public outreach, district planning, identification of partnerships, and preliminary design. The plan is focused on improving the Saugatuck area to benefit local and new residents, commuters, and businesses.

All told, 20 projects in towns and cities across the state will receive nearly $11 million in funding.

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