Officials Describe What the Federal Infrastructure Act means to Hartford County | Connecticut News


HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) – While Washington is working on an infrastructure bill, Channel 3 has been researching how it will affect local people.

Connecticut’s First District plans to redesign Hartford’s highways with its share of the federal infrastructure bill.

Rep. John Larson and other officials helped explain the changes that might occur in the First Congressional District.

He said traveling around Hartford might get a different look.

“It’s number one in the state, number one in New England, number 11 in the country,” said Larson.

Hartford is routinely considered one of the most congested spots in the country. The archaic bridge system that runs Interstate 84 through Hartford, known as the Viaduct, was designed to handle only a fraction of the cars that use it. The Interstate 91 interchange only adds to the problem.

Now the Ministry of Transport is getting help with its mobility study. The $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill includes $ 16 million for a 100-year transportation plan in the Hartford area.

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“We will be providing $ 5 billion for a program to bring communities like North Hartford together with the rest of the city,” said Rep. Peter A. Defazio, Oregon, chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

The Infrastructure Act focuses on projects that reconnect cities. In Hartford, the elevated viaduct cuts the north end from the city center. Larson hopes a redesigned highway system will allow the city to reconnect. He also hopes that this will allow the city to recapture more of its riverside.

“Look, when we do something in this nation, we make sure we do it right,” said Larson.

Larson said redesigning the highway and reconnecting Hartford with itself and with the river are key to Hartford 400, a series of projects that Hartford seeks to reinvent and redesign over the next 15 years

“We try to move everything and everyone in one direction so that we can support a region,” said Jackie Mandyck, Executive Director of iQuilt Partnership.

The iQuilt partnership leads Hartford 400 by bringing a number of projects together into one vision. The hope is that a new highway system in Hartford and East Hartford would make way for development and parks. Much of that land would be on the river.

“Right now we have a highway system that connects the Connecticut River and restricts access to the river a little,” said Michael Zaleski, President and CEO of Riverfront Recapture.

A rendering showed what iQuilt had in mind for the project. Hartford 400 projects also emphasized a broader definition of infrastructure, which included parks and technology. The Infrastructure Act funds some of these, including upgrades to the dike system in Hartford and East Hartford, a new Riverfront Park, more charging points for electric vehicles, better broadband, and improvements to CT Rail and Bradley International Airport.

“The situation here fits perfectly with our plan,” said Defazio.

Once the mobility study is complete, planners can apply for more federal funding. It is not clear how the highways will be redesigned. Larson has called for tunnels in the past. Hartford 400, however, has proposed letting the highways go around the capital.

Whatever happens, supporters aim to reconnect Hartford to the river in time for the city’s 400th anniversary in 2035.

“We should be able to use it, to grapple with it, and to really use this natural resource that we have,” said Mandyck.

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