A $14.6M investment in Bridgeport’s future
This week the State Bond Commission approved $14.6 million for key infrastructure and economic development projects for the City of Bridgeport. This is the largest financial installment of fund approvals that our city has seen in many years. Funding for the approved projects includes $7 million for infrastructure improvements to the city-owned Sikorsky Airport, $3.7 million allocated toward the reconstruction of the Congress Street Bridge, $2.28 million to support Bridgeport’s coastal resiliency and $1.7 million for additional projects listed below. The entirety of approved funding will have a tremendous positive impact on Bridgeport’s infrastructure, technical advancements, development potential, as well as bridging our communities.
The total approved bonding funds includes $1 million to assist in the demolition of the former Remington Arms industrial site, $353,654 grant-in-aid to the McGivney Community Center, Inc. to finance demolition of the adjacent former Saint Charles Church School for parking and outdoor recreation space and $262,840 to finance alterations, improvements and technology equipment at Bullard-Havens Technical High School in Bridgeport. Lastly, the state bond commission approved $100,000 grant-in-aid to match private funding in communities where Martin Luther King, Jr. corridors are established. The funds will be available for streetscape improvements, signage and way finding enhancements and façade improvements.
The $7,000,000 in investment approved by the state bond commission for the regional Sikorsky airport will be used to make improvements to runways and upgrade fire safety at the facility, in addition to other needed repairs. Sikorsky airport is owned by the city of Bridgeport and located just over the city line in Stratford. This state investment is expected to be matched by significant private, commercial funds in the near future that will open the door to regional passenger air service using new quiet jets that can take off and land on the existing runways without the need for any expansion. It is supported by regional city administrations in both Bridgeport and Stratford and by area lawmakers as a new convenient travel option for regional commuters and travelers. We are looking forward to the many new commercial opportunities that these advancements can bring our city.
The Congress Street bridge has been sitting broken since the existing drawbridge got stuck in the upright position in 1997. This year under the leadership of Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and Congressman Jim Himes, Congress declared the river north of the bridge a non-navigable waterway for commercial boat traffic. Therefore, the new bridge can now be fixed and does not need to open which will greatly reduce the cost of bridge reconstruction. The Bridgeport City Council has approved $12 million in the city capital budget for the Congress Street Bridge in each of the last two years. The approval of this 3.7 million from the state bond commission will finally make rebuilding the bridge possible and finally rejoin our city neighborhoods.
The $1,000,000 bond will aid the demolition of the iconic, blighted former Remington Arms industrial complex on Barnum Avenue and will help clear the way for environmental remediation of the contaminated property. DuPont Chemical Corporation is legally obligated to fund environmental cleanup at the former factory site once demolition is complete. This decontamination will make it possible for significant new economic development and regional job creation, breathing new life into the now defunct Remington factory space.
The State Bond Commission is a 10-member body that is empowered under the Connecticut General Statutes to allocate bond funds to finance specific projects throughout our state. The commission is made up of the governor, three state constitutional officers, four state legislators and two state agency heads. We appreciate Gov. Dannel Malloy and the bond commission, our legislative delegation, and all those who supported the efforts to secure the state aid for these projects that will greatly benefit our city.
Joe Ganim is mayor of Bridgeport.