WILTON, Conn. -- Wilton has been awarded a $500,000 state grant to build a pedestrian walkway to connect the town center, the train station and several multifamily residential communities.
The grant is part of the Small Town Economic Assistance Program, Gov. Dannel Malloy said in a statement Monday. The project will provide a safe pathway for people to walk throughout the center of town, the statement said.
A total of 28 towns won grants to fund a variety of economic development, community conservation and quality-of-life projects.
“These small town grants allow the state to partner with municipalities on projects that will help improve our communities, rebuild our infrastructure, and create jobs,” Malloy said. “These are investments that will make our towns a better place to live and work, will increase the quality of life, and help attract economic development and growth.”
State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) and other legislators applauded the grant.
“Connecting the train station with the center of town has been a longstanding objective for Wilton,” said Lavielle who worked with state Sen. Toni Boucher and state Rep. Tom O’Dea to ensure Wilton’s inclusion in the final grant package.
“In recent years, the connection has become even more of a necessity with the construction of Trackside and the development of Wilton Commons and new housing off River Road. The new walkway will make it possible for everyone who lives, works, dines, or shops in Wilton – including commuters, town center residents, teens, and seniors – to walk between shops, restaurants, offices, and the station without having to go far out of their way or risk their safety on busy roads. It will add a whole new dimension to our town."
The Wilton Station Walkway is a planned hard surface walkway and pedestrian bridge over the Norwalk River connecting – at one end – the Wilton train station, Wilton Commons, a multitenant office building, and Trackside with – at the other end – Wilton Center and several residential communities immediately south of the center of town.
Currently, to get from Wilton Station to Wilton Center (a distance of only about 500 feet), pedestrians must walk a circuitous route of nearly one mile along steeply sloped roadways and a heavily traveled section of Route 7.
According to town officials, when completed, the walkway will enhance access to both the town center and the railroad station, and represents a component of a larger plan to connect public transportation to the Norwalk River Valley Trail. The walkway is expected to encourage and increase rail ridership, while reducing personal vehicle usage.
“This project has important safety, economic development, environmental, and quality-of-life benefits, and it fits perfectly with the transit-oriented development goals shared by the administration and legislators on both sides of the aisle,” said Lavielle. “While transit-oriented development projects often cost millions of dollars and entail years of development and construction because they involve building new housing and retail around mass-transit facilities, Wilton needs only the bridge and walkway to move to the next level.”
State Sen. Toni Boucher (R-26) said, "This is a return investment into the community that will help stimulate the economic development this area needs."