Grant will reclaim Route 34 corridor: New Haven-state collaboration sets stage for $140M plan
(10/16/2010) (From New Haven Register)
By Mary E. O’Leary, Register Topics Editor
NEW HAVEN — The city beat the odds and won a highly competitive federal grant Friday that will be used to replace the Route 34 highway connector, reclaim land and knit neighborhoods back together, reversing damage done a half-century ago.
The $16 million in TIGER II funds will underwrite infrastructure changes that will allow a proposed $140 million biotech and lab research building to be constructed just in front of the Air Rights Garage by developer Carter Winstanley of Massachusetts, with work expected to begin in 2011.
The funds, along with $7.9 million from the state, an estimated $7 million from the city and $500,000 from Winstanley, will fund conversion of the eastern portion of the Route 34 connector to two boulevards up to College Street with a direct road to the Air Rights Garage.
Residents will see Exits 2 and 3 off the connector shut down and traffic directed into the city off Exit 1.
The development foresees other construction in the 11 acres that will be reclaimed from what is now the connector, conversion of North and South Frontage roads to the two narrowed boulevards that are pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly with slowed traffic off interstates 91 and 95. It is all part of Downtown Crossing, a project the city has been planning for several years.
The College Street bridge will be rebuilt, and in later phases, Temple and Orange streets will be extended to the Hill and Union Station areas.
Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said the economic engine of the city is in the area where Yale Medical School and Yale-New Haven Hospital intersect and together spin off bioscience businesses.
“We are dead filled up for life science space in the city right now,” DeStefano said. “This will allow us to grow.”
He tied creation of jobs not only to an expanded grand list, but opportunities for New Haven children as the city pushes to close the racial achievement gap and looks to their futures.
U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, D-3, and city officials got word of the grant from Washington Friday, quickly canceling other meetings as they set up a press conference.
DeStefano said when he spoke with DeLauro about it, they both had the same reaction.
“We used Vice President Biden’s term this morning: We think this is a big f-ing deal,” he said.
Long term, New Haven is looking at a new street grid in the adjacent medical school area and development of what is now a large expanse of parking lots and disjointed streets down to the Church Street South area and Union Station.
The city will spend the rest of 2010 and much of 2011 securing Route 34 land from the state, subsequent sale to Winstanley, state Department of Transportation traffic approval and local site plan approvals. The state as a partner is already onboard with the overall plan.
The mayor made a point of thanking Economic Development Administrator Kelly Murphy and Transportation, Traffic and Parking Director Michael Piscitelli for putting together the successful grant and coordinating the plan.
The city last year lost its first try at a TIGER grant, but was close in that round out of thousands of applications.
Bruce Alexander, vice president at Yale University, said the university dovetailed its needs “to jump start buildings for the private sector” so the startup businesses it launches have a place to land. To this end, Yale will help direct tenants to Winstanley’s building, as it has with his other projects.
Yale Medical School Dean Robert Alpern said in the last five years, if something is built, it is filled immediately, using the Smilow Cancer Hospital as an example.
The Winstanley building and highway work is expected to generate 2,000 construction jobs, while the lab will have about 1,000 permanent jobs at all levels with $80 million in wages and $114 million in overall economic activity.
A total of $20 billion worth of projects were submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation for $600 million in TIGER II money.
Dodd said U.S. Transportation Secretary Raymond LaHood characterized New Haven’s plan as “one of the best they received anywhere in the country.”
“This project will allow us to reconnect parts of New Haven that are going again to take advantage of the assets we have and build on them in the future,” Dodd said.
Contact Name: Mary E. O’Leary
Contact Phone: 203-789-5731
Follow this link for more information.