Commissioner Daniel C. Esty
Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
79 Elm Street
Hartford, CT 06106
Dear Commissioner Esty,
We are writing in support of the proposed New Britain-Hartford Busway and specifically in regard to the inland wetland permit submitted to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection by the Department of Transportation.
Based on a review of the materials included in DOT's inland wetland permit application, it appears that the project strikes the appropriate balance between protecting the wetlands and allowing construction of the New Britain-Hartford Busway.
Moreover, with the completion of the Busway, much of the 2 acres of impacted wetlands will be replaced by an extensive mitigation plan that will create a contiguous 8.8-acre system of new or enhanced wetlands.
Furthermore, this Bus Rapid Transit system will result in other significant environmental benefits for our state. The New Britain-Hartford Busway will:
- Reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT), and reduce congestion on the highways, both of which will reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, leading to cleaner air.
- Promote environmental justice by a.) reducing air pollution for citizens in Hartford County, an area with one of the highest asthma rates in the country, especially for those living in inner city neighborhoods; and b.) expanding travel options for those citizens without cars to access jobs, education (i.e.: CCSU), and medical care.
- Provide a 21st Century public transit system critical to transit oriented development (TOD), which has proven to decrease sprawl and encourage more efficient land use.
- Stimulate brownfield cleanup around Busway stations, i.e.: Newington's abandoned National Welding building, abutting both Cedar Street Station and Hayes development site.
- Include a new five-mile long multiuse trail for cyclists/pedestrians.
- The implementation of and strict adherence to the proposed mitigation plan.
- The use of low impact development (LID) best practices at every opportunity along the Busway route and in construction of the stations, i.e.: pervious pavers at stations, swales, buffers, rain gardens, stormwater management.
- The preference for bridges, not culverts, over primary and intermittent stream crossings to protect fish habitat and streamflow where appropriate.
- Commitment by DOT to purchase clean fuel buses.
- The outreach, planning and investment necessary for responsible transit oriented development, including walkable village centers, mixed use development and multi-income housing surrounding the stations to ensure that the transit system is used and that environmental and economic benefits of the investments are realized.
- The implementation of a complete streets strategy along the entire Busway corridor and surrounding neighborhoods with a firm commitment to dedicate 1% of the project to fund it, as required by Connecticut's complete streets law.
- The development of the new multiuse trail to the maximum potential.
- The protection of mature trees, other valuable natural vegetation and appropriate buffers, to the greatest extent possible, during construction.
Lori Brown, Executive Director, Connecticut League of Conservation Voters
Don Strait, Executive Director, Connecticut Fund for the Environment
Karen Burnaska, Coordinator, Transit for Connecticut
Tom Colligan, Interim Executive Director, Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice
Cheryl Dunson, President, League of Women Voters of Connecticut
David Kooris, Vice President, Regional Plan Association
Ryan Lynch, Connecticut Coordinator, Tri-State Transportation Campaign
Senator Steve Cassano, 4th District
Senator Terry Gerratana, 6th District
Senator Ed Meyer, 12th District
Representative Tim O'Brien, 24th District
Representative Robert Sanchez, 25th District
Pedro E. Segarra. Mayor, City of Hartford
Timothy T. Stewart, Mayor, City of New Britain
Mary Glassman, First Selectman, Town of Simsbury and Chair, Capitol Region Council of Governments
Gerry Amodio, Executive Director, New Britain Downtown District
Carolle Andrews, Chief Administrative Officer, University of Connecticut Health Center
Oz Griebel, President, MetroHartford Alliance
Avner Krohn, President, Jasko Development
Jack Miller, Presiden, Central Connecticut State University
William Millerick, President, New Britain Chamber of Commerce
Mary Tomolonius, Executive Director, Connecticut Association for Community Transportation