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    Friday, March 01, 2024

    Local legislators' bills aimed at improving region's transportation infrastructure

    Hartford – A Transportation Committee hearing Wednesday will include bills proposed by two local Republican representatives, aimed at improving transportation infrastructure in Southeastern Connecticut.

    A bill proposed by Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, would “require the Department of Transportation to remodel and repair the area surrounding Exit 74 of Interstate 95, including widening the bridge spanning Route 161 to six lanes, and (to reroute) the exit ramps to increase safety and expand economic development opportunities.”

    Formica said that the DOT already has plans to make the repairs and alterations. He said one of his goals in proposing the bill is to promote conversation about the exit, which he referred to as one of the “problem pockets” on the interstate, and create an opportunity for conversations about Exit 75 as well.

    “There’s nothing new that I’m proposing that’s not been discussed in the last year and a half,” he said.

    Also on the agenda are bills aimed at expanding passenger rail access in Southeastern Connecticut, from Formica and Rep. Aundré Bumgardner, R-Groton.

    Formica has proposed construction of new Shore Line East rail station in Niantic. Bumgardner, who serves on the Transportation Committee, has proposed a bill that would require a study of the feasibility of extending passenger rail service from New London to Brattleboro, Vt., as well as from New London through Stonington to the T.F. Green Airport in Providence.

    Bumgardner has proposed another bill on Wednesday’s agenda that would allow towns to establish two-way protected bicycle lanes, which he said would apply to local roads.

    Though the bill is included on the hearing agenda, Bumgardner said he actually plans to throw his weight behind a comprehensive bill also slated for hearing Wednesday, that aims to develop and update guidance and standards for bikeways by Sept. 1.

    That bill was proposed by Sen. Beth Bye, Rep. Roland Lemar and Rep. Cristin McCarthy Vahey.

    “Bike infrastructure is a part of any comprehensive transportation plan,” Bumgardner said last week.

    He said in January that he would like to see bike and pedestrian paths on the Gold Star Memorial Bridge widened.

    t.townsend@theday.com

    Twitter: @ConnecticuTess

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