A little over a week ago, a sign appeared at the gravel parking lot at the corner of Capitol Avenue and Broad Street in Hartford declaring it closed until Sept. 9 — but with no other explanation.
Turns out the parking lot — on the site of a state building demolished in 2002 next to The Courant and Fox CT — is being upgraded to asphalt with new lighting and landscaping, including a fancy drainage system that will filter rainwater before it is discharged into the Park River.
A project paid for out of the state DOT’s operating budget?
No, out of the $567 million budget for the New Britain-to-Hartford busway, now renamed CTfastrak, state DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick told me.
The busway? True, the lot is close to where the busway will cross nearby Flower Street, but it won’t be used by riders on the controversial CTfastrack and it’s not near a busway stop. Flower Street will eventually be closed to through traffic.
Nursick said it isn’t unusual for the state to include “ancillary” projects as part of massive public works projects because they can be done more cheaply than if they were bid as separate projects. Typically, ancillary work is along or in the vicinity of the main project.
“It’s somewhat of a blight on the area,” Nursick said, of the gravel lot. “It is state-owned. We have a responsibility not to leave the city with a dirt lot.”
Nursick couldn’t provide me with a cost for the parking lot project, but said it will be substantially less than what he estimates would be a “couple of hundred thousand dollar” standalone project.
Outside of some landscaping along the busway route, the only other major project is upgrading lighting and sidewalks along Park Street in Hartford from Sisson Avenue east to Pope Park. That project carries a $2 million price tag and involves extending improvements already existing farther east on Park Street.
The busway will have a stop on Park Street.
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