On Wednesday, February 13, 2019, the Transportation Committee of the CT General Assembly held a hearing on a large number of proposed bills, including Proposed S.B. 775, establishing the Central Connecticut Loop Trail. Senator Norm Needleman of Portland and Senator Mary Abrams of Meriden and Cheshire were co-introducers of the bill. The legislation passed in the 2019 session, but no funding was included to pay for the route study needed to advance the project. We are very appreciative of Senator Matt Lesser of Middletown, Rocky Hill, and Wethersfield who took the initiative on this project.
The Central Connecticut Loop Trail will be a 111 mile mostly off-road bicycle route in the center of our state. The route passes through Cheshire, Southington, Plainville, Farmington, Avon, Simsbury, Bloomfield, Hartford, East Hartford, Manchester, Bolton, Andover, Columbia, Willimantic, Lebanon, Amston, Colchester, East Hampton, Portland, Middletown, and Meriden.
A loop trail of this length, passing through a variety of scenic environments, will be a strong attraction for cyclists from in-state and out-of-state. Importantly, the trail also passes the commuter rail stations in Meriden and Hartford, so it would facilitate transportation by bicycle and train from all of the listed communities to New Haven, Hartford, and Springfield.
Major sections of this loop trail already exist in the form of the Farmington Canal Trail, Air Line Trail, Hop River Trail, and other short trail sections in various municipalities. The primary “gap” that the legislation addressed is the 23.5 mile section from the western terminus of the Air Line Trail in Portland to the Farmington Canal Trail in Cheshire. This is called the ALT-FCT Connector. Within that 23.5 mile section, only about 16 miles (10 miles on-road; 6 miles off-road) need to be funded and constructed. The leaders of Portland, Middletown, Meriden, and Cheshire are in agreement as to the desirability of this route.
In addition to creating the 111 mile loop trail pictured above, the ALT-FCT Connector will link the 2 longest existing trails in Connecticut, facilitating bicycle travel from the Putnam/Thompson area in eastern east via the Air Line Trail to New Haven and Massachusetts via the Farmington Canal Trail.
Because this project basically requires 16 miles of construction in 4 municipalities, within the jurisdiction of 3 Councils of Government, and because the 111-mile loop offers benefits to the entire state, the Jonah Center is seeking state funding to support a CT DOT study to determine the best route between the Arrigoni Bridge and the center of Meriden. Some sections of such a route have already been built or are under study by the City of Middletown in connection with the Newfield Corridor Trail.