The Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT) today announced that a 6-foot-wide pedestrian walkway will be added to the Putnam Bridge, which carries Route 3 over the Connecticut River between Glastonbury and Wethersfield. The decision was reached after extensive outreach and discussion with local officials, the Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG), neighboring Goodwin College, and bicycle and pedestrian advocates, who have been seeking a path over the bridge for years.
The walkway will cost about $5 million and will be added to a $26 million DOT bridge rehabilitation project expected to start late next year and be completed in 2014. The four-lane bridge opened in 1959 and is 2,393 feet long. On an average day, the bridge carries about 54,200 vehicles.
“This is an important way to integrate multimodal transportation into our existing infrastructure,” said Governor Dannel P. Malloy. “In our pursuit of smarter, more efficient, and cleaner transportation options, these types of pedestrian-and bike-friendly paths become critical to meeting our overall goal of finding alternatives to driving. As we partner with communities and other stakeholders, we hear a real commitment to making these options happen.”
While the bridge’s structural capacity limits the maximum width of a cantilevered pedestrian walkway to 6 feet – too narrow for bikeway classification – the limited width will still provide the means for pedestrians and bicyclists to cross on foot. The decision to add the walkway was premised on the demonstrated commitment of the adjacent communities to spearhead an initiative for the design and construction of multi-use paths that would link the bridge crossing to local roads.
Goodwin College owns hundreds of acres along the river in East Hartford, Glastonbury and Wethersfield and is planning to develop a trail network along the river through these areas. The college would like the approach connections to the Putnam Bridge pedestrian walkway to link to its planned trail network.
CRCOG will be working in a partnership with Wethersfield, East Hartford, Glastonbury, Goodwin College officials and bicycle advocacy groups to seek state and federal funding for the advancement of a feasibility study for pedestrian/bicycle connections from the bridge to local roads on each side of the river. The proposed trail network being developed by Goodwin College would most likely be included within the scope of such a study.
DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker said that the department is committed to working with CRCOG, the towns and other stakeholders to determine where the local connections should be built and what, if any, the environmental impacts will be.
“This is a great step forward in allowing access across the Connecticut River in this area of the state. The only other connection for bicyclists and pedestrians are located in Hartford or Middletown,” Redeker noted. “This kind of ‘quality of life’ action benefits everyone and illustrates our commitment to promoting every mode of transportation. It also demonstrates the importance of partnering with stakeholders at every level.”
The bridge is named for William H. Putnam, who was chairman of the Greater Hartford Bridge Authority, created in 1955 by then-Governor Abraham Ribicoff. Putnam died nine months before the bridge opened.