City of Waterbury Submits RAISE Grant Application

The City of Waterbury submitted a $24 million RAISE grant application proposal on April 12, 2022, to the United States Department of Transportation for a project entitled “Waterbury Active Transportation Economic Resurgence (W.A.T.E.R.) Phase II.” NVCOG and the Waterbury Development Corporation, the city’s economic and community organization, assisted the City of Waterbury in developing a full application in a short turnaround.

The project is anticipated to total $30 million with the city seeking 80% in federal funds.

The proposal included four active transportation project components:

  1. Phase II of Waterbury’s Section of the Waterbury Naugatuck River Greenway Trail (~$9.9M)
  2. Jackson Street Riverfront Park (~$6.9M)
  3. West Main Street Renovation and Improvements (~$9.8M)
  4. Installation of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations at the Waterbury Train Station (~$200,000)

This investment leverages the work of NVCOG as a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and our other aligned projects in the transit corridor by continuing efforts to reconnect neighborhoods, expand mobility choice, and advance health equity for communities of concern by increasing access to resources and physical activity.

The project narrative and additional documents can be found at this link.

Register today for NVision 2022!

NVision 2022: Naugatuck Valley Conference on Fostering Equitable Development is a one-day regional conference bringing together stakeholders from the public and private sectors to discuss our region’s future.

Interactive sessions with expert panelists will help frame the Greater Naugatuck Valley’s path on key issues related to transportation, affordable housing, and public involvement. The conference will feature guest speakers Governor Ned Lamont and Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary.

This event, hosted by the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments (NVCOG), will take place on Tuesday, September 13, 2022, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, CT. The conference is free and open to the public.

Click here to register today!

CT Rides Hosts “Drive Less” Challenge

During the month of May, CTrides is encouraging all residents, students, and employees in Connecticut to join the challenge to help reduce auto emissions by traveling by train, bus, carpool, vanpool, biking, walking, or telecommuting (working from home). See below for details and click here to view the PDF.

Greater Bridgeport Transit Expects Additional Electric Buses

Beginning in 2020, Greater Bridgeport Transit (GBT) tested the state’s first two electric buses called the Proterra Catalyst. In 2021, these buses operated on regular routes. Now, an additional three electric buses (Proterra ZX5) are expected to arrive later this year. Plans to add even more electric buses are already underway, with expectations to bring the fleet to 20% zero-emission buses by the end of 2024.

In celebration of Earth Day, learn more about the steps Greater Bridgeport Transit has taken towards a “greener, cleaner transit future.” Click here to find more information about the GBT electric bus project.

“Along the Lines” Podcast Episode Highlights CTDOT and ADS Pilot Program Aira

The latest episode of The Connecticut Department of Transportation’s “Along the Lines” podcast highlights the Department of Aging and Disability Services (ADS) and CTDOT’s new pilot program Aira and explores ongoing efforts to create an inclusive public transportation experience in CT.

Through this program, riders taking a bus or train can now live stream through their phone’s camera and connect to personal agents who can help them navigate by describing their surroundings.

Listen to the latest episode on AppleGoogleSoundcloudLibsyn, and Spotify

More information can also be found at alongthelinesct.com.

FEMA Approves Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments Hazard Mitigation Plan

Hazard Mitigation Plan Update

PRESS RELEASE

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments multi-jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP). The plan was funded with a grant from FEMA and updates the local HMPs for all municipalities in the NVCOG Region. With this plan approval, all 19 NVCOG communities are eligible to apply to the Connecticut Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS) for mitigation grants administered by FEMA.

The NVCOG HMP examines a range of natural hazards including winter storms, hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes, and earthquakes. Strategies and actions recommended in the plan are aimed at reducing the risk and vulnerability of the region to those hazards over the next five years. With approved plans, the region’s municipalities can apply for federal funding to undertake projects that will protect the lives and property of region’s residents and make the region more resilient to future natural disasters.

The project team, consisting of NVCOG planners and consultant SLR, Inc., worked with municipal staff and stakeholders in each community over the past 18 months to review previous plans and identify risks.  Input from municipal officials, stakeholders, and the public were all incorporated into a final multijurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan and 19 municipal annexes which were adopted by local governing boards. This regional effort represents a cost and time savings to municipalities when compared to developing individual HMPs as was common previously.

Plan documents can be accessed at www.nvcogct.gov/hmp.

Contact:

Aaron Budris
Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments
203-757-0535
abudris@nvcogct.org

Derby Route 34-Main Street Reconstruction Project Update

City of Derby Route 34 Main Street reconstruction diagram.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) has awarded $18.7 million to C.J. Fucci Inc., a New Haven construction firm, to build the Route 34-Main Street reconstruction project. Construction is slated to start in April of 2022 and take about 700 days to complete.  

The NVCOG has been managing the design of the project in cooperation of the CTDOT. The goals of the project are intended to improve traffic flow, reduce congestion, improve safety and support economic revitalization in the downtown area south of Main Street. The project is receiving 80% federal funding and 20% state funding, including $4 million allocated by NVCOG from the Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program (LOTCIP) apportionment as part of the state share.  

Main Street will be reconstructed and widened between Bridge Street and Route 8. To ensure pedestrian safety and that the reconstructed road continues to act as the city’s “Main Street,” many traffic calming features will be installed, including a raised median, wider sidewalks, curb bump-outs, highly visible crosswalks, and designated on-street parking. Also, as part of the project, the city will be replacing the sanitary sewer main that runs under Route 34 and improving a short section of Factory Street that was not included in the project limits. These actions are non-participating items and will be paid for by the city.  

The work will be done in multiple stages to maintain traffic throughout the project corridor. Work will begin with the relocation of utilities followed by filling the area on the south side of Main Street to support the new travel lanes. The end date is expected to be November 2024, but will be affected by winter weather conditions during winter months. 

Find more details about the project on our “Route 34 Main Street Derby Reconstruction” project page 

Route 34 Preliminary Design Rendering
Route 34 Preliminary Design Rendering

NVCOG and Environmental Partners Take Legal Action on Kinneytown Dam

Kinneytown Dam

PRESS RELEASE

Waterbury, Conn. – The Kinneytown Dam, owned by Hydroland Corporation, has blocked migratory fish passage on the Naugatuck River for long enough. Today the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments (NVCOG), comprised of the 19 municipalities surrounding the Naugatuck River, along with environmental organizations Save the Sound and Naugatuck River Revival Group (NRRG), have jointly taken legal action at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), aimed at restoring the once thriving sea-run fisheries of the Naugatuck River. The legal filing by NVCOG, Save the Sound, and NRRG asks FERC to revoke Hydroland’s operating license exemption.

“Hydroland has ignored their responsibility to manage and maintain Kinneytown Dam for too long, and they do not deserve the license exemption they have,” said Mayor Pete Hess of Naugatuck. “We won’t tolerate a facility that damages the environment and is unsafe in our communities any longer.”

“Let’s face it, these generating plants have been off-line for some time—one for more than a decade. Without the generation of power, we need to question the role played by this abandoned facility that damages our restored river,” Mayor Neil O’Leary of Waterbury added. “We are asking FERC to take more direct action against this operator. We have to find a way for fish to migrate past this obstruction on the Naugatuck River so that we can finally realize all of the benefits of the public investments made by Connecticut taxpayers, our partner river towns, and the many activists in restoring the Naugatuck River over the past decades.”

Longstanding and severe problems with fish passage conditions and actual passage of individual species at the dam have been detailed in multiple studies previously submitted to FERC. These longstanding problems include failure to control spill coming over the dam, a fish ladder that was not constructed as designed and is not being operated as required, and an unauthorized shutdown of one of the operating turbines.

“For many years, including 2021, the dam has served as an almost complete barrier to thousands of fish, including American shad and river herring, that are coming into the river from Long Island Sound and attempting to spawn upstream,” said Kevin Zak, founder of Naugatuck River Revival Group. “The fish ladder is a failure, and it has been since it was built. Little has been done to remedy this situation for the past 20 years, and recent efforts by the agencies have been met with radio silence by dam owner Hydroland. Clearly something more must be done.”

In November 2020, and again in July 2021, Save the Sound and NRRG submitted photographic and video documentation to FERC demonstrating the presence of hundreds of migratory fish below the dam, and showing their inability to pass the dam during the upstream migration that occurs each spring. Then, in September, a team of experts from Save the Sound, NRRG, and Queens College, CUNY, submitted to FERC an analysis, based upon two decades of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) data gathered at the dam site, showing that favorable water flows for fish passage at the dam occur only during 39 percent of the peak fish passage period in the average year due to operational and structural conditions. Some years have little or no favorable flows for the entire spring fish run, resulting in extremely low passage rates.

The impacts from this situation are dramatic: from 2000 to 2020, the average number of fish passing Kinneytown Dam annually for three target species for restoration—American shad, blueback herring, and alewife—was 12.5 individual fish combined from April 1 to July 1—a fraction of a percentage of the original restoration goals of more than 22,000 shad and 220,000 river herring (blueback herring and alewife) expected to be counted annually.

Over the last several months, FERC, which is responsible for licensing the dam and overseeing its operations, has ordered Hydroland to explain this situation and to comply with directives from state and federal resource agencies. To date, Hydroland has failed to respond, missing all filing deadlines required by FERC, and has taken no required actions onsite. FERC has also cited multiple safety concerns related to the site.

Save the Sound staff attorney Kat Fiedler stated, “Hydroland is in violation of numerous fundamental conditions of its operating license exemption, including improperly constructed facilities, changes to operations, and decades of neglect and deterioration allowed by previous dam owners and now Hydroland. Even with renewed attention to this issue by the federal agencies, deadlines to address this situation set by those agencies have been completely ignored, continuing this history of complete disregard for the environmental harm caused by this dam. Our legal action asks FERC to exercise its authority revoke the current exemption.”

Among other relief, today’s filing by NVCOG, Save the Sound, and NRRG asks that:

A. FERC declare the Kinneytown fish passage operations out of compliance with its exemption.

B. FERC revoke the current exemption and require the owner apply for a new exemption or license, and that any new application include designs, based on best available engineering and science, for safe, timely, and effective fish passage.

NVCOG, Save the Sound, and NRRG are members of the Naugatuck River Restoration Coalition, a group of municipalities and environmental organizations working to restore the Naugatuck River. Conditions at Kinneytown Dam have also been noted by Senator Richard Blumenthal, Senator Chris Murphy, and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, who have called for action to restore effective fish passage on the Naugatuck River.

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Previous filings and orders:

NVCOG is represented by Attorney Ronald A. Shems of Tarrant, Gillies & Shems in Montpelier, VT. Ron practices energy and environmental law before federal courts and agencies and in several states. Tarrant, Gillies & Shems represents individuals, municipalities, businesses, regulated industries, cooperatives, and non-profit corporations. www.tarrantgillies.com

Connecticut State Rail Plan Update

Anosnia Train Station

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CT DOT) is hosting three virtual public information meetings for the upcoming State Rail Plan update. This document presents strategies and programs focused on ensuring existing rail infrastructure maintenance and pursuing investments to maximize future rail services. If you’re passionate about rail service or utilize public transit, this is a terrific opportunity to learn and ask questions about this plan.

Information meetings will be conducted virtually on the following dates:

  • Tuesday, August 31st at 6:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, September 2nd at 1:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, September 9th at 6:00 p.m.

Registration is not required. You can LIVE stream these events by clicking here: https://portal.ct.gov/DOT/Publictrans/Office-of-Rail/Connecticut-State-Rail-Plan

If you have any questions or comments concerning the State Rail Plan, please e-mail: DOTPLANNING@CT.GOV.