Ridgefield trail and boardwalk plan awaits $2.8 million grant
The vision of a walking trail that would eventually go from the Parks and Recreation property to Branchville — including a boardwalk in parts of Great Swamp — seems to be inching its way toward becoming a reality.
The town is working with state officials on approval a $2.8 million grant to finance the construction of a crucial link of the envisioned trail — the stretch from Farmingville Road through Great Swamp with the planned boardwalk paralleling Ligi’s Way, connecting to the former Schlumberger property near the recycling center.
From there the plan is for the trail to go through the former Schlumberger property — a segment to be built by the developers of the 77 Sunset Lane condominium project — and connect to the Rail Trail near the turn-around, where Prospect Street and Sunset Lane meet.
The Rail Trail goes from the Prospect and Sunset intersection to Florida Road near Branchville.
“It’ll be about a 10-mile round trip someday,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi told the selectmen.
The $2.8 million grant was approved by a vote of the Western Connecticut Council of Governments (WestCOG) on Jan.16, after a review by its technical advisory team, Marconi said.
The regional support from the WestCOG smooths the way but does not guarantee approval by the state Department of Transportation (DOT).
“The next step is approval by the state DOT,” Marconi told The Press. “...According to our COG liaison, we can probably expect approval sometime in June of this year.”
But, given the state’s continuing financial difficulties, the selectmen at their Jan. 22 meeting didn’t seem to regard approval of a $2.8 million grant as a sure thing.
There is one outstanding issue between the town and the state, Marconi told the selectmen.
The town had designed the boardwalk through Great Swamp when the grant application was put together, and state officials think the boardwalk should be wider.
“We want to do eight feet, and they’re saying why don’t you do 10 feet,” Marconi said.
The 10-foot width would be in keeping with the standards recommended by the American Association of Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).
“Although they are AASHTO recommendations, they’re recommendations, not requirements,” Marconi said.
Selectwoman Maureen Kozlark asked Marconi if the developers who built the 77 Sunset Lane condominium project on former Schlumberger land bought from the town — agreeing in their purchase contract to extend the trail through the former Schlumberger property — were ready to do that work.
Marconi said he hadn’t discussed it with them lately, but would ask about the status of the trail segment they’re supposed to build.