Hartford leaders, lawmakers pushing for ‘Hartford 400’ project to eliminate highway bottleneck, grow economy downtown

Hartford

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — You may recall Boston’s “Big Dig” project and the difference underground highways made in that city. Could Hartford be next? A vision for the future called “Hartford 400” continues to take shape, but Congress would have to be on board.

With a Democratic president who wants to invest in infrastructure, Congressional leaders say this presents a unique moment and they say now is the time to get this done.

According to the White House, Connecticut commuters are spending 11 percent more time on highways. Why? Because of bottlenecks like the I-84/91 connectors in downtown Hartford. A highway design dating back to the Eisenhower administration that city leaders say severed certain communities.

State Treasurer Shawn Wooden said Monday, “We know the harm that was done with well-intentioned but bad planning. We have been suffering as a community because of that for decade after decade.”

Now, President Biden is referencing Hartford in his American Jobs Plan.

For more than a decade Congressman John Larson (CT-D) has been pushing a vision that would move the messy bottleneck underground, open up the riverfront, and re-connect the city. Now, lawmakers are pushing for funding in Pres. Biden’s plan.

Congressman Larson explained, “Essentially, someone is going to be able to walk from here down to the riverfront without having to cross an eight-lane highway.”

Mayor Luke Bronin added, “It’s a vision our city rallies around because we know the costs of those mistakes of the past and we see the opportunity that there is right now. When you think about the enormous amount of land right along our riverfront that is taken up by highway and you think about the economic opportunity for our city if that land were instead available for development.”

The plan would unlock new parks or green spaces along the Connecticut River. Waterbury’s mix-master would be no more. But it would cost billions and could take more than a decade to build.

The first step involves a comprehensive study that costs millions of dollars.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal said, “This is the Hartford that the people of Hartford deserve. But it is also the key to unlocking explosive economic growth and community cohesion.”

For a link with details to the Hartford 400 Project: https://hartford400.org/

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