Grant Will Enable Commercial Development, New Downtown Green and 400 to 500 Units of Affordable Housing
(Hartford, CT) - U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (D-5) announced today the award of a $2.46 million federal grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to alleviate longtime major flooding in downtown Meriden, enabling new commercial development, a new downtown Green, and 400 to 500 units of affordable housing.
The grant will cover 75 percent of a $3.28 million effort to construct a 12-foot by 9-foot culvert at the Amtrak railroad bridge to allow additional capacity for flood water to flow through what has been a longtime bottleneck. Construction of the culvert is a critical first component of the City’s larger flood control plan, necessary to address longtime severe flooding that has hindered development downtown.
Located immediately south of the Meriden downtown business district, the Amtrak railroad bridge, while structurally sufficient, is undersized and has a very low beam that causes extensive flooding upstream of the bridge, over topping East Main Street and flowing into the downtown commercial area. The existing railroad structure contributed to significant flooding in downtown Meriden in the mid-1990s, causing serious damage to the bridge and tracks. The City has experienced 11 “100-year” floods in the last 150 years, accumulating $26 million worth of property damage as a result of the last two from the 1990s. Following a 1992 flood, a major employer with more than 300 employees relocated outside the downtown area.
With this grant, the City will be able to allocate its own resources to other aspects of its flood control project, enabling completion of all bridge projects downstream of the downtown corridor. By reducing the impact of flooding, new development plans will be able to occur downtown, including a new downtown Green, 400-500 affordable housing units, and 1.5 million square feet for commercial development. Completion of this project will also remove approximately 230 commercial and residential properties from the 100-year flood plain.
This project will also protect the Amtrak railroad bridge, a critical part of the much-anticipated “New Haven – Hartford – Springfield” high speed rail service.
“This grant will help to finally alleviate the severe and frequent flooding that has hampered development in downtown Meriden for over a century. I applaud FEMA for this wise investment and will continue to work with Meriden leaders and other members of the Congressional delegation to ensure all future stages of this exciting development have the support and funding needed to succeed,” Blumenthal said.
“This FEMA grant will give Meriden the economic boost it deserves by mitigating serious flooding that has plagued the city for well over 100 years. More housing units, expanded commercial opportunities, and the development of a new city center are welcome contributions to the Silver City. I was proud to back this funding request and I’ll continue to support the city’s new development projects in the future,” Murphy said.
“I applaud FEMA for their investment in this critical flood mitigation project. This is an important step forward. I’m excited by efforts to revitalize downtown Meriden, including the development a new downtown Green, and I look forward to work with federal, state, and local partners to support continued economic development and job creation,” Esty said.
Meriden City Manager Lawrence Kendzior said: "We are extremely grateful for the support the City received from our Congressional delegation in obtaining approval of this grant. It will enable the City to move forward with a key component of the Harbor Brook Flood Control Project that will finally resolve flooding issues that have plagued the City for over 150 years."
Juliet Burdelski, the City's Economic Development Director, said: "This is great news. This grant will help leverage over $100 million that will be invested in our city center economic development efforts in the next few years, none of which would be possible without support for the flood control plan."