WILTON— A longstanding plan to connect the Wilton train station to Wilton Center has moved a major step forward.

The town received a commitment letter for a $1,405,200 grant from the Connecticut Department of Transportation for the construction of a pedestrian bridge, according to an announcement by First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice on Wednesday, Feb. 26.

She said the town will now move forward sending final drawings to the state for review and requesting permission to bid the project. Once permission is received, the town will put the project out to bid and present bid results to the Board of Selectmen for a decision on next steps, she said.

The pedestrian bridge is part of an overall plan to ensure the vitality and appeal of Wilton Town Center, Vanderslice said.

The bridge is expected to facilitate mixed-used development around the Wilton train station, to increase the value and development prospects of 3.5 acres of undeveloped town-owned land on Station Road, and to incentivize new residential options within the Town Center.

To get from the train station to Wilton Center now — 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.

Wilton has been actively pursuing building the pedestrian bridge since 2007. After applying for a number of state grants for the project, it received a Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant for the project in 2014. The town completed the permitting process, which included required design input from various federal and state agencies resulting in a much more costly project than originally anticipated when the STEAP grant was awarded.

“Based on the expanded scope and cost of the bridge, a reassessment occurred as to whether we should continue to pursue the project,” Vanderslice said. “It was determined the project was worth pursuing because of the potential economic development impact for the area around the train station and Wilton Center.”

pgay@wiltonbulletin.com