by Chris Ferrero, RLA, AICP, CNU, Planning Director
When you fly to “Hartford/Springfield”, you are actually flying to Bradley International Airport, which is located in Windsor Locks, CT. It is the region’s largest commercial airport and the gateway to southern New England, serving more than six million people annually. Windsor Locks also has an Amtrak train station, which was removed from its historic location to be near the interstate highway, which was nowhere near the airport nor the downtown area.
About a decade ago, an idea began to take shape. What if that train station was moved back to its original downtown location? We were hired by the Town to evaluate this initiative as part of a transit-oriented development (TOD) study, which included in-depth analysis of the physical and economic opportunities and constraints of such a relocation. Redefining downtown land use and transportation connectivity, as well as overcoming numerous challenges, has led to a renewed vision for downtown Windsor Locks that is unfolding today in real time. We provided the Town with a step-by-step approach for revitalization, and we’ve been proud to be part of the transformation taking place since.
We’re creating complete streets to provide safe, multimodal connectivity to the relocated station site, to regional trail networks, downtown activities, and to regional bike systems.. We’re creating pedestrian-centric streets and public gathering spaces, we are involved with the transformation of Montgomery Mills (brownfields site) from long-abandoned buildings to beautiful new apartment homes (ribbon cutting on April 15th!), and are excited by the additional mixed-use development interest being bolstered by the Town’s adoption of Connecticut’s first Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) district. We’re watching downtown come alive as a result of an idea and a solid implementation framework – it’s rewarding and motivating! But what has been the most rewarding is working with the town and residents of Windsor Locks to give them back their downtown after its decimation during the days of “urban renewal”.
So I was thrilled when I saw this article over the weekend: https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/politics/state-receives-grant-to-build-new-hartford-line-train-station-in-windsor-locks/2231339/
This is what we’ve been working for and I’m so proud to be a part of it, and so happy for the Town and people of Windsor Locks!
About the Author
Chris Ferrero, RLA, AICP, CNU, is Fuss & O’Neill’s Planning Director. Chris has planned, designed, and managed a wide variety of public and private projects over his 30-year career. His specialty is solving complex urban and suburban development/redevelopment challenges and he loves watching projects transform from a sketch to reality.