Bridge would link Black Rock to Fairfield Metro
Posted in the Trumbull Forum
#1 Mar 9, 2014
Some people are against it
The new Fairfield Metro railroad station lies just over the border from Bridgeport's trendy Black Rock neighborhood, on the other side of Ash Creek.
The former could use commuters. The latter -- a gateway into Bridgeport -- needs foot traffic to keep its businesses healthy and attract more investment.
That's where a proposal for a new pedestrian bridge comes in.
"It will help everything," said Gerry Manning, a Black Rock community leader.
Manning and his neighbors last week were briefed on a feasibility study to better link the Fairfield Metro and Black Rock, with a bridge from the end of Fox Street, over Ash Creek to the Fairfield shore.
Spearheaded by the Greater Bridgeport Regional Council, the study took a year-and-a-half to produce and, officials hope, will lead to construction of the bridge and related street and sidewalk improvements in 2016.
That's a relief to Black Rock residents who say it's too dangerous to walk or bike across the busy Brewster Street bridge by Showcase Cinemas to reach the station.
"You've got to take your life in your hands to get over there," said Realtor Gail Robinson.
While it might at first glance seem like a local concern, GBRC Director Brian Bidolli argued providing better access between the Fairfield Metro and Black Rock is important for the region.
Opened a few years ago, Fairfield's third rail station has faced challenges.
It's underutilized in part because plans for adjacent businesses and housing have been slow to move forward.
One Black Rock resident said while the station is safe, the often-empty platforms and parking lot are uninviting.
Meanwhile, Black Rock -- a key gateway to Bridgeport that has developed its own separate identity as a destination for good food, drink and interesting shopping -- still faces economic struggles.
"We get these fantastic businesses that come in and then they disappear," said Robinson.
"It's hard for them to stick."
Bidolli said the bridge will help both neighborhoods better manage and benefit from expected future growth.
"I know there's development opportunities there (at Fairfield Metro)," he said.
"Whatever that transpires into, there will be people."
Manning also said the bridge will likely attract commuters to live in Black Rock. Improved access to public transportation should increase property values as well, he said.
Before ground is broken, however, a lot of things need to fall into place.
GBRC's consultants presented three bridge concepts that range from $2.4 million to $3.1 million in part because they need to withstand the kind of severe storms that have caused flooding in the Ash Creek area.
The city is willing to pay for the final designs, but the hope is the state will come through with the money for construction. The ultimate goal is to also improve the roadway and sidewalks on Fox Street leading up to the bridge to make it more attractive for walking and biking.
"We won't start the design until we know the future construction funds are in place," said David Kooris, Bridgeport's head of economic development.
"We're working on it really hard," Bidolli said of obtaining state dollars.
There will also be a laundry list of local, state and federal permits required because the construction will have an impact on the environment.
At the end of the day, the bridge also needs cooperation from Fairfield, one of a handful of neighboring towns that with Bridgeport make up the GBRC.
The bridge concept already is supported by a Fairfield committee charged with improving pedestrian and bicycle access around town.
But Manning said he does have some lingering concerns about whether the project could get mired in cross-border squabbles.
#2 Mar 9, 2014
black rock residents always wanted to be from fairfield and now they have a link..............after the political payoffs.
Since: Aug 10
#3 Mar 10, 2014
The bridge sounds good to me. It will make Finch richer.
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