Pedestrian bridge moves a step closer to reality

The Inland Wetlands Commission gave its unanimous approval during a meeting Sept. 8 to the pedestrian bridge over the Norwalk River, which will connect the Wilton train station with Wilton Center.

“It’s an impressive project,” said board member Dan Falta, speaking of the bridge to be built with a  $500,000 Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant. The vote followed months of red tape delaying the project.

The STEAP grants are intended to improve communities, rebuild infrastructure and create jobs, Gov. Dannel Malloy said in 2014 when announcing the grant. The goal is to link the train station with the town center for more business traffic, especially on weekends when the train station is quiet, said Bob Nerney, the town planner.

Nerney made a presentation to the commission about the 90-foot, prefabricated bridge.

The Wilton Station Walkway will include a paved walkway and pedestrian bridge over the Norwalk River and surrounding floodplain connecting the train station, Wilton Commons, an office building, and Trackside Teen Center with Wilton Center and several residential communities immediately south of the center of town. Currently, to get from the train station to Wilton Center (a distance of only about 500 feet), pedestrians must walk nearly a mile along steeply sloped roadways and a heavily traveled section of Route 7.

“It may as well be six miles away,” Nerney said at the hearing. “We feel this bridge is very important for growing the economic vitality of the town.”

Only one member of the public spoke during the hearing on the project. Sarah Curtis asked if any invasive species were included in the 27 shade trees and 21 ornamentals that are planned to for the area of the walkway.

“No, there are no invasives,” a landscape architect assured her, saying the shrubs would be along the order of chokeberry and sumac.

The project is not ready for construction just yet. Permits are still required from the state Department of Transportation and the Metro-North railroad.