Norwalk River Valley Trail ‘missing link’ in Norwalk to get final piece
By the summer of 2020, walkers, joggers, hikers and bikers could be making their way from Broad Street in Norwalk all the way down to Calf Pasture Beach along the Norwalk River Valley Trail.
That’s at least the goal of Charlie Taney, executive director of the NRVT, now that the city has secured the permits necessary to construct the trail’s “missing link.”
The link is an approximately mile-long stretch that will run mainly along the Norwalk River between Union Park and New Canaan Avenue near Riverside Cemetery. The reason it’s called the missing link is because two sections of the trail, one from New Canaan Avenue up to Broad Street and the other between the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk and Union Park, have already been finished.
The link, which will cost about $3 million to build, will be 80 percent funded through a federal grant, with 20 percent coming from a city match that has been already made, according to Michael Yeosock, assistant principal engineer in the Norwalk Department of Public Works.
“Final design plans (for the link) are under review and we’re hoping to be able to bid this thing this summer, start some fall construction and open it sometime next summer,” Yeosock said on Friday.
Besides the link, the city is in the process of marking designated “shared lanes” for walkers and bikers from the Maritime Aquarium to Calf Pasture Beach.
“Let’s say a year and a half from now, you’ll be able to go from Broad Street way up here, way up pretty close to the Merritt, you’ll be able to get on your bike or get your running shoes on and go all the way down to Calf Pasture Beach,” Taney said.
Yeosack said the trails were slightly delayed after work on gas lines affected some of the sections of the roadway last year. By the time the roads were paved again in the fall, Yeosack said it was too cold to put in the designated shared lanes.
Once the weather warms up this spring, however, that’s when the city plans to put the markings down, he said.
Taney said he was excited to get work going on the portions in Norwalk, so people could understand the trail more and utilize it.
“Most people in Norwalk don’t even know it’s there yet, because this little piece here,” he said, gesturing to the section above New Canaan Avenue, “is new, kind of just one piece that people don’t really know about it, but once we get this missing link built, and get all the bike lanes put in, people will really understand, ‘oh I can go all the way down here, oh this is great.’”
Yeosack said that it’s moving slowly, but he’s glad to see progress since the plans have been in place for years.
“It’s been on the books for a very long time to have a recreational trail for residents to use,” he said. “We’ve been working and trying to secure funding. We’ve been building sections of it.”
The most successful piece of the trail that’s been built is the approximately 2.5-mile “showcase trail” in Wilton, he said.
“We’re now over 6,000 counts a month,” he said. “We get a lot of people who love the trail and use it like crazy.”
The goal of the total project is to eventually have more than 30 miles of trail run along the Norwalk River from Norwalk up to Danbury. While the final project is years away from completion, Taney said they are planning to also begin work on the “WilWalk” section of the trail, which connects Norwalk to Wilton within the next 18 months.
The Norwalk progress comes just months after the Norwalk River Valley Trail secured a $300,000 state grant for work on the Redding Mile. The design for that piece was already complete and paid for with private donations.
Taney said he’s glad they’ll be able to get moving on the properties north this year.
“All the building up until now, all the trail construction has been in Norwalk and Wilton and we’re now growing beyond that,” he said. “We’re now going to start building our first sections in Redding and Ridgefield. That’s the next year or so.”