By Samuel Gold
The chief elected officials of the Council of Governments of the Central Naugatuck Valley (COGCNV) congratulate Waterbury on its successful application to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Improvement Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program. In March, COG voted unanimously to partner with the city on its Waterbury Active Transportation Economic Resurgence (WATER) project, and is excited to support the city on what will be a transformative project.
The project will extend Waterbury’s walkable, mixed-use downtown, increase transit accessibility, and redefine the city’s image around an enjoyable and attractive riverfront greenway. Investment in these improvements will support the city’s economic recovery and the larger regional economy. A reimagined and redeveloped Freight Street corridor will provide space for new businesses, including new medical offices near Waterbury’s hospitals. The corridor also will provide opportunities for development oriented to Metro-North commuter-rail service and the CTFastrak station.
No other location in the Central Naugatuck Valley region has the unrealized development potential of the Freight Street corridor. It is bounded by the region’s most significant transportation assets: the Interstate 84/Route 8 interchange, Metro-North terminal and the future Naugatuck River Greenway. The corridor is underutilized because it lacks basic connections to the transportation infrastructures that surround it.
The WATER project will construct the long-planned Jackson Street/Thomaston Avenue connector, and will connect the Freight Street corridor to West and South Main streets and to the region’s expressway network.
The up-and-over pedestrian bridge connecting to Library Park, and complete street retrofit of Freight and Meadow streets, will provide the pedestrian and bicycle connections needed to make transit-accessible development possible in the Freight Street corridor.
The most exciting and ambitious element of the WATER project is the Naugatuck River Greenway. With the extension of the Naugatuck River Greenway into the Freight Street corridor, this abandoned area, which no one thinks about or ventures to, becomes a real place that is desirable and special. The multi-use greenway trail will provide Waterbury residents and visitors a safe place to walk, bicycle, and access the now-clean Naugatuck River. As planned connections to neighborhoods and Naugatuck, Watertown, and Thomaston are completed, it will become an alternative transportation commuter facility as well.
As a partner in the WATER project, the COG will support the city with technical and administrative assistance, and ensure the coordination of Waterbury’s project with local, regional, state and federal transportation planning, design and capital projects.
This is an exciting time for Waterbury and the region. As Waterbury’s rejuvenation efforts achieve fruition, COGCNV is joining with six neighboring Naugatuck Valley municipalities to form a new, larger, and more capable Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments. We look forward to helping Waterbury and the Region realize the promise of the WATER project and the resurgence of the Naugatuck Valley.
Samuel Gold is executive director of COGCNV.
For more information, please visit the City of Waterbury WATER Project Information Page.