Town of Wilton will try again for walkway bridge grant

The Board of Finance authorized the submission of a town application for a Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant at its Feb. 18 meeting.

The grant would help fund the construction of a walkway bridge connecting the Wilton train station on Station Road to Wilton Center.

The bridge would cross under the Route 33 bridge and lead right into Wilton Center.

“The cost of the project is $546,000,” said Bob Nerney, director of planning and land use management. “We’re asking the grant to be up to $500,000.”

Mr. Nerney said the remaining $46,000 would come from the town of Wilton.

Richard Creeth, Board of Finance member, said he thinks constructing the bridge would be a smart idea.

“I’ve always thought that a bridge there would improve accessibility and just finish off the center aesthetically,” he said.

Mr. Nerney said the trail would function as a convenience to residents who live in the 600 housing units south of Wilton Center.

“I see this as an opportunity to, in essence, expand Wilton Center,” said Mr. Nerney.

“With the town’s several acres of land, I think there’s the opportunity to try to integrate those areas with Wilton Center.”

Not only would the bridge provide a convenience for residents, said Mr. Nerney, but it would also provide a safe route between Wilton Center and the train station.

Part of the trek between Wilton Center and Wilton train station, said Mr. Nerney, involves walking along Route 7 and crossing at the Route 33 intersection.

“The intersection has a signalized crosswalk, but it’s nonetheless dangerous,” he said.

Mr. Nerney said the train station and Wilton Center are so close that someone could probably hit a baseball with a bat from one location to the other.

Mr. Creeth said, “It’s a painful route on foot, so the bridge would definitely be worth something.”

The town has unsuccessfully applied for similar grants in the past, and Mr. Nerney said he hopes this one pulls through.

“It’s a good project. It has a very strong transportation component and the potential to be integrated with regional projects like the proposed Norwalk River Valley Trail Project,” said Mr. Nerney.

The STEAP grant is given on a competitive, statewide basis, said Mr. Nerney.

“We’re aware of other projects that have been approved statewide and I don’t think some of them come close to this,” he said.