The Connecticut Post’s Earth Day coverage of Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch gave the mayor glowing reviews and an “A” for his work to make Bridgeport’s transportation network more sustainable. And it wasn’t only the paper who lauded the mayor. Regional Plan Association’s David Kooris applauded Mayor Finch for “his citywide policy to link transportation with urban development.”
This has been most prominently highlighted by the Mayor’s aggressive push for, and defense of, federal TIGER II funding for Bridgeport’s SteelPointe Harbor project to bring mixed-use retail, housing and commercial development to the City’s waterfront.
Mayor Finch also makes this connection throughout Bridgeport’s BGreen 2020: A Sustainability Plan for Bridgeport. The plan is permeated with references to the need to better link transportation to smart land use decisions and calls for:
- Reducing automobile trips, vehicle miles traveled, and the city’s transportation emissions;
- Facilitating the redevelopment of underutilized sites throughout the city, transitioning blighted properties into neighborhood amenities that support the city’s tax rolls; and
- Providing city residents, workers and visitors with a wide range of mobility options that are less carbon intensive.
Implementation priorities of the plan include a “Transit First” policy which would encourage cycling, walking and transit use instead of single-occupancy vehicle trips and a “Complete Streets” policy to accommodate cyclists, pedestrians, transit riders, and drivers on city streets. Increased investment in transit, like a new train station on the city’s East Side, expanded bus operations and targeted enhanced bus corridors is also prioritized, though much of it would depend on state and federal support.
Perhaps most impressive is Mayor Finch’s understanding of parking management as a way to support smarter land use decisions and transportation choice. In fact, the Mayor recently suggested that he would like to see parking requirements for new developments in downtown Bridgeport eliminated, and said the City’s recent zoning changes, which required residential parking from two to one space per unit, did not go far enough.
This understanding and leadership will be key if the Mayor’s vision of a greener, more transit-centered and livable Bridgeport will move beyond Earth Day recognition and into reality.