Public workshop in Groton to address EB housing, transportation needs

Consultants are wrapping up a study on regional housing, transit and transportation needs related to the continuing influx of Electric Boat employees. They’re calling on the public for input.

A second and final public workshop will be held Monday with the consultants hired to examine, among other things, what type of investments are needed to accommodate future EB employees and Navy personnel associated with increased submarine production.

The Southeastern Connecticut Council of Government is overseeing a Department of Defense-funded Joint Land Use Study. It’s a companion to a larger study designed to aid regional municipal planning for towns around the Naval submarine base in Groton.

The workshop starts at 7 p.m. at the Groton Municipal Building. Portion of the draft study will be available at the meeting.

“This is kind of a crucial time for public input, before they write the final report,” said Amanda Kennedy assistant director of the SECCOG.

The results of the study are due to be released in the fall and will focus on how the housing market and transportation infrastructure will be impacted, with an emphasis on Groton. The report also will make recommendations to address possible problem areas.

Population forecasts show 300,000 living in the region in 2040 compared to the roughly 269,000 here now. EB’s workforce is expected to grow from more than 17,000 to 20,000 by the mid-2020s.

Roughly 500 additional sailors and their families also will relocate to the area while construction of ballistic-missile submarines takes place at EB. The new subs will carry 15 more sailors — 150 compared to 135 on the current attack subs — and have two crews rather than one.

Bob Ross, executive director of the Connecticut Office of Military Affairs, said the study will look at the demographics of the workforce and sailors coming to the area to help determine what type of housing is needed — apartments within walking distance of work versus single-family homes with a yard and garage.

“At the end of the day, we hope to produce a road map for all the town planners in the region showing ‘this is our best guess for future demand of housing and transportation.’ We have housing demands that are going to change and we want to know what that’s going to look like,” Ross said.

Kennedy said a draft of the study indicates a need for the area to address some challenging intersections, such as Groton’s “five corners” and numerous other roadways where there are no sidewalks or inadequate sidewalks and no bike lanes.

One of the conclusions is that the amount of additional traffic to the region is “not going to be dramatic,” and in line with what local planners already are predicting and planning for, Kennedy said.

g.smith@theday.com

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