Bill advances for task force to study Mystic parking, traffic issues

March 23, 2023

The Connecticut General Assembly’s Commerce Committee has advanced a bill that would create a task force to find ways to ease traffic and parking issues in Mystic.

In a unanimous vote last week, the Commerce Committee passed out of committee the bill calling for a task force to study the feasibility of developing a multimodal transportation center in Stonington and Groton. The bill now sits on the docket awaiting whether the Senate, and then the House, will call it for a vote.

State Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton, who introduced and co-sponsored the committee bill, said the committee, which is in tune to tourism and economic development, recognizes the overwhelming parking issues and the impact of the volume of people visiting Mystic.

“Our goal here is to keep people coming here to the state of Connecticut, wanting to spend their money and their time here, but if there’s no place for them to park or any easy way to move them around, they get frustrated and they leave, which when they leave, dollars go with them,” Somers said.

Somers said she believes the committee recognizes the bill as “a very important step for the number one tourist driving area of the state of Connecticut.”

The committee bill calls for creating a task force to study the feasibility of a multimodal transportation center in Stonington and Groton and studying options to alleviate traffic congestion, including water taxis, parking areas, bike lanes, and trolleys.

The task force would look at what the potential solutions would cost and what permits would be required and develop “alternatives to alleviate parking and traffic pressure in the Mystic area of the towns of Stonington and Groton, with a focus on green transportation.”

The task force would look at the work already done by the towns of Stonington and Groton, which had jointly commissioned a parking study, but take a larger, more comprehensive approach and involve state agencies, said Somers.

Recommendations from the towns’ study were presented in 2021 at a public meeting. A local group reviewed how to implement some of the recommendations.

The task force would include local representatives of the Groton and Stonington communities and representatives of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the state Department of Transportation.
The DOT is involved in case there are easements or pieces of property DOT owns that could potentially be used, and the DEEP is involved because of the potential for water taxis, Somers explained.

“This committee viewed this through the lens of tourism and helping to continue to support one of our very recognized tourist destinations,” State Sen. Joan Hartley, D-Waterbury, co-chair of the committee, said during the committee’s March 14 meeting.

State Rep. Stephen Meskers, D-Greenwich, co-chair of the committee, said he firmly supports the study, because he thinks the state has to figure out what the needs are and support those needs.

He said he doesn’t want people driving to Rhode Island to get lunch because they can’t get into Mystic or anywhere nearby. He said he needs to make sure the economic development of the state is secured.