Stamford OKs pedestrian bridge over Rippowam River near Charter, as part of walkway from Scalzi to the Sound

STAMFORD — A new pedestrian bridge will connect Greenwich Avenue to the glimmering Charter Communications headquarters on Washington Boulevard, further building out the vision for 3 miles of connected public space in Stamford.

The zoning board last week unanimously approved a plan for a bridge across the Rippowam River from the Mill River Park’s property on Greenwich Avenue to a walkway built as part of the Charter HQ.

South End developer Building and Land Technology, which constructed the Charter building, must finance and build the pedestrian bridge as part of its 2019 expansion deal with the city. However, the city will own the bridge once it is constructed.

City land use officials told the board that the 250-foot-long walkway will create an alternate path to the Stamford Transportation Center for pedestrians because the Charter headquarters has a direct connection to the train station. But more important, they said, the bridge will link Mill River Park to the north with the South End.

“(This) will bring us closer to having a continuous connection from Mill River down to the harbor,” Land Use Bureau Chief Ralph Blessing said at the meeting.

Once completed, pedestrians and cyclists will able to traverse all of Stamford’s landmark park and reach the South End largely without encountering cars. Public property lines Greenwich Avenue starting at West Broad Street and down to Pulaski Street.

Creating a connected greenway from Scalzi Park to Long Island Sound has been a priority since at least 2001, when the city published a comprehensive study that explained how officials could connect acres of public space. Since then, sporadic zoning changes, property acquisitions and strategic property easements have inched Stamford closer to that goal.

Just north of the Nissen Carousel, the city will develop the greenway’s northernmost branch by winter 2023. A trail will connect Scalzi Park, Hart Elementary School, Cloonan Middle School and J.M. Wright Technical School to Mill River Park starting at Hanrahan Street. Stamford officials expect the project to cost about $2.59 million.

Though the bridge marks another major step in creating a greenway, it doesn’t complete the larger goal of securing public access from Scalzi to the waterfront.

The city in 2021 secured one of the last bits of privately owned land along Stamford’s waterfront. Though the property has yet to be sold to a developer, the change from industrial to high-density residential zoning came with a land easement that will connect the site to the Harbor Point boardwalk system.

The city plans to start construction on the pedestrian bridge by the “summer or fall,” according to civil engineer David Ginter of Stamford-based firm Redniss and Mead.