Transportation hub envisioned for outside base
Creating a transportation hub on Crystal Lake Road just outside the Naval Submarine Base is among the recommendations of a study looking at compatibility issues between base operations and the development interests of the surrounding communities.
The year-long analysis, which makes short, mid- and long term recommendations and prioritizes them, was funded by a $319,187 grant from the Department of Defense's Office of Economic Adjustment and $35,921 from the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments, which sponsored and coordinated the project.
The governmental heads of the City and Town of Groton, Ledyard, New London, Montville and Waterford — communities that could be impacted by base operations and vice versa– also participated.
Addressing transportation and congestion issues around the base and making Route 12 and Crystal Lake Road more bike and pedestrian friendly were among the higher priority recommendations.
The study also suggests modifying the Southeast Area Transit District bus route to stop closer to the base's main gate, and increase frequency of service. Additionally, it says shuttle service should be added between Electric Boat and the base.
Bob Ross, executive director of the state's Office of Military Affairs, said the study highlighted much of what officials already know, but also provided some items to follow up on. And in some cases, he said, officials are already working to address some of the issues the study points out.
A $5.5 million reconstruction project is underway to improve the roadways near the base, which, officials say, will resolve significant public safety and traffic management problems in the area.
Ross said officials should take a close look at any potential development of the south side of Crystal Lake Road, which the study also recommends.
"There's a lot of vacant land there and that presents both risk and opportunity," he said. "It could be developed in a way that we don't want. On the other hand, it could be developed in a way to support the base and the community."
The Thames River was also studied. Recommendations for that area include improving the relationship between recreational boaters and base waterfront security personnel by positing information about proper boater behavior near the base in boating guides and on navigational maps.
The base, EB and the surrounding municipalities should make sure there are adequate in-water disposal sites for dredged material, and monitor projects that will increase river traffic
Jim Butler, executive director of COG, said the study participants will form an implementation committee to act on the recommendations, and there will likely be a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the municipalities and the base.
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