A $30 million facelift to the Albany Avenue corridor will get underway next month, capping decades of stops and starts on the project.
The overhaul, which will run from Homestead Avenue near the West Hartford line to Bedford Street, includes updates to 20 traffic signals, the addition of curb extensions, and landscaping and lighting improvements. It’s expected to take about two years.
“My first thought was, I’m so glad I’m still alive to see it,” said Denise Best, chair of the Upper Albany Revitalization Zone. “It’s been a long time.”
While early stages of planning date to 16 years ago, Best said the idea for the streetscape improvements goes back to the late 1970s. State projects in other towns, staff turnover and struggles with funding delayed the upgrades.
Albany Avenue will be redesigned to include a through lane and a turn lane in each direction, and some of its cross streets will be realigned. Ten bus shelters, 430 trees and 330 streetlights will be added. Work is expected to begin near the intersection with Homestead and travel east.
About 80 percent of the cost is covered by federal funding, officials said. The remainder was contributed by the state. Hartford also contributed about $1 million for engineering and design expenses.
“This project is a long time coming,” Mayor Luke Bronin said Wednesday. “We need to have a vibrant city center, a vibrant downtown, but equally important is having vibrant and strong neighborhoods.”
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called the street “a traffic accident magnet” and said the renovations are necessary.
Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker has echoed that, telling The Courant in January that 500 crashes occurred on the road between 2008 and 2010, and 700 more happened between 2012 and 2016.
In advance of the groundbreaking, an informational session on the project is scheduled for May 18 at the Chrysalis Center. A job fair, hosted by DOT, will be held on May 24 from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Artists Collective.
Article taken from the Hartford Courant. To read the whole article on the Hartford Courant website, click here.