Friday, July 2, 2010

Livable Communities Planning in Hartford Sets Example for the State of Connecticut by Erin Bourgault

U.S. Congressman John B. Larson held an open forum on Monday, June 28th on Livable Communities and the Hartford “One City, One Plan” and iQuilt Proposals, with special guest Congressman Earl Blumenauer. Hartford’s plans should set an example for the rest of the state of Connecticut towards urban planning, improving transportation and housing options, and protecting the environment. The proposals include goals to revitalize downtown Hartford and enhance its role as a cultural center, as well as connect people to the city by improving mobility and coordinating multimodal transport. The major focus of iQuilt, the “Capitol District Vision Plan and Hartford’s Pathways of Innovation,” is to create a Greenwalk between Bushnell Park and the riverfront, as well as a “Connecticut Square” outdoor festival space to transform Hartford into a more friendly and welcoming environment.

Although Hartford is a compact district, many people drive throughout the city. By improving streets so they are enjoyable, walkable and bike-able, citizens can become less dependent on cars. The new proposal includes a connection to Union Station in order to enhance the use of public transportation in Hartford. The American Public Transportation Association estimates that families with access to good public transportation can save an average of $9,000 per year in transportation costs compared to households with no transit access. Congressman Earl Blumenauer used the phrase “bike partisanship” and stated that cycling is a tool to bring people together. Improving transportation options across the state of Connecticut would do more than decrease traffic congestion; it would improve quality of life.

The proposals and commitments in Hartford connect to the proposed Livable Communities Act, written by U.S. Senator Dodd of Connecticut. According to Senator Dodd, “This legislation provides funding for regions to plan future growth in a coordinated way that reduces congestion, generates good-paying jobs, creates and preserves affordable housing, meets our environmental and energy goals, protects rural areas and green space, revitalizes our Main Streets and urban centers, and makes our communities better places to live, work, and raise families.”

In March 2010, Senator Dodd and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Deputy Secretary Ron Sims went to New Haven and Hartford to promote the integration of housing, transit, and smart land use to create more livable communities. Congressman Larson said, “As we work to rebuild our economy and put our neighbors back to work, we must also rebuild our communities, making them greener more sustainable and more livable for generations to come.” Hartford has begun to take on this goal, and the rest of the state of Connecticut should follow.

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1 comment:

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    Common Cents