HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Connecticut is giving $5 million to 11 cities, towns and regional planning agencies as a first step to plan downtown development around rail and bus stations, state officials announced Thursday.

In towns and cities throughout the 350-mile corridor between New Haven and Montreal, officials are making initial plans to refurbish train stations along a proposed high-speed rail line. Planners see rail stations as future retail and office space in downtowns redesigned as pedestrian-friendly residential, commercial and shopping districts.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said projects receiving funding were whittled down from 23 applications totaling $13.2 million. Transportation and other officials made the final decision on which municipalities will receive the money.

“The projects that we’re supporting will help these towns and surrounding regions take tangible steps in making their communities more walkable, more accessible and more attractive to residents and employers alike,” Malloy said.

Transportation Commissioner James P. Redeker said officials are trying to establish “livable, walkable and `bike-able’ community development around and near transit stops and stations.”

“Easy access means increasing ridership,” he said.

Planning related to the New-Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail line, which will form a key part of the proposed high-speed corridor, and a planned bus-only route between Hartford and New Britain were cited in awards of $750,000 in New Britain, $730,000 in Hartford, $850,000 in Meriden, $390,000 in New Haven and $250,000 each for Windsor and Windsor Locks.

In southwest Connecticut, Norwalk received $486,000 for surveys and designs to bolster a network of shuttles and city transit buses, Stamford received $460,000 for parking and redevelopment studies related to the New Canaan Branch of the New Haven Rail Line and Stratford was granted $250,000 for a plan linked to the Stratford station on the New Haven Rail Line and other work.

     (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


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