Mill River Trail Gets Seed Money

Aliyya Swaby PhotoThe city got a state grant to develop a trail along the Mill River between East Rock Park and Grand Avenue—furthering a project years in the making to create a connected system of trails and bike routes.

The state Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) and CT Greenways Council granted the city $289,151 to design and construct two segments of the trail—one from the Ralph Walker Rink on State Street to the Amtrak rail line, and the other from James Street to Grand Avenue.

The new construction will link segments that already exist but are separate from one another.

The public can only easily access the banks of the Mill River at East Rock Park. The proposal would allow more biking and walking opportunities for people between and around East Rock and Fair Haven.

Currently, the city has the right to build a trail between Grand Avenue and 370 James St., said City Plan Director Karyn Gilvarg. The plan going forward is to make a “loop trail” from Grand Avenue up the side of John Murphy Drive, connected up James Street through the site of “The District,” a planned technology incubator center. From there, it will go to the “wonderful and mysterious space” underneath Interstate-91, Gilvarg said. “That’s where we really need design work to figure out the best way through there, and if we need to build things.”

The plan also includes a trail connection on the other side of the Mill River, connecting Blake Field with trails that already go by Wilbur Cross High School and up into East Rock Park, she said.

Click here to see a more extensive plan for the full Greenway.

Click here for an interactive trail map, created by advocates for the Mill River Trail.

Grassroots efforts by “Mill River Advocates” and local non-profits pushed the city into action to develop a grant proposal. As more people start working at 370 and 470 James St., the clamor for a system of trails increases.

Gilvarg said the local movement behind the river trail makes now an ideal time to have received the state grant.

“It’s going to be a little complicated because we want the money to go as far as we can,” she said. They plan to stretch it by determining what work can be done by volunteers, what can be done in the city, and what has to be done by contractors.

“New Haven is literally blessed with an abundance of beauty in its natural resources and this funding – the result of a productive collaboration between the city and many outdoor enthusiasts – will improve access to the historic Mill River,” Mayor Toni Harp said in a release Thursday. “I’m grateful to all those activists and the City Plan Department for their successful, joint effort, which will help keep city residents active, engaged, and outdoors.”

The funding is available for use this summer, and a two-phase design process will begin soon afterward, allowing for public input. Landscape architecture firm Reed Hilderbrand is working with the city on the design, Gilvarg said.

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posted by: anonymous on April 28, 2016  3:48pm

Did the state just cut all of its already-allocated bond funding, including for UConn and DEEP projects that are underway? Saw something on that in today’s news but am not sure exactly what projects it applies to.

posted by: robn on May 1, 2016  1:25am

Now if we can just get Amtrak and the TSA to loosen up their sphincters and allow a non troglodytic connection under their tracks, we might be able to connect this puppy back up to East Rock Park.

posted by: J.R. Logan on May 1, 2016  12:17pm

For those interested in getting involved we have a Facebook group where you can get updates:

We are also collecting feedback from people interested in the trail with a short survey: