Published August 19. 2014 2:45PM Updated August 20. 2014 6:37PM
New London — An engineering and environmental analysis of the proposed bridge that would carry pedestrians across Water Street to the planned National Coast Guard Museum has concluded that the best location for the structure would be from Parade Plaza to the current site of the Greyhound bus terminal.
If that location were chosen, the bus terminal would be moved across Water Street to a vacant lot in front of the city-owned Water Street Parking Garage, the report states. The 178-page report, done by Milone & MacBroom for the state Department of Economic and Community Development, considered four other locations for the bridge as well as a tunnel but found significant drawbacks to those alternatives. The state has committed $20 million toward the planning, design and construction of the bridge, which is considered a critical component of the Coast Guard museum.
Tammy Daugherty, director of the city’s Office of Planning and Development, noted that the conclusions of the report will not necessarily be followed by the architects who will ultimately design and build the museum and bridge. A ceremonial groundbreaking for the museum took place this spring, but construction has not yet begun.
The nonprofit National Coast Guard Museum Association has begun a fundraising campaign, and federal funds are also being sought. The total cost of the museum, which could open by 2017, is estimated at $80 million.
The report, called an Environmental Impact Evaluation, was required under the state Environmental Policy Act. The act requires that projects that receive state funding be evaluated to determine the impact on physical, biological, social and environmental resources.
Public comment on the report will be received through Monday.
Daugherty said a public hearing on the report on Aug. 7 drew about a dozen people. Concerns about impacts of the bridge on historic structures, aesthetics of the downtown and traffic were expressed, she said. The city will be submitting written comments addressing issues about shared ownership and maintenance responsibilities for the bridge between the city, the museum, Cross Sound Ferry and other stakeholders, she said. It will be up to the project architects to determine how best to meet to the various challenges raised in the report and the public comments, she said.