WILTON -- Officials in the town of Wilton are hoping to take a closer look at the Exit 16 corridor, an area they hope will be developed as new businesses move into the county.
At their meeting on Thursday, town board members will discuss an application for a $40,000 grant that would pay for a study of the area and determine what changes may be needed to accommodate growth there.
Turning lanes, roundabouts, broader shoulders that could accommodate bikers and bridge improvements on Ballard Road could all be looked at as part of the study, which would be provided by the Capital District Transportation Committee, a regional planning group.
If awarded to the town, it would require a local match of $13,500.
Whether the town should create a dedicated park-and-ride facility, amend their zoning laws or update their water and sewer infrastructure in the area would also be considered as part of the study.
The work — expected to take six to nine months — will involve the help of staff from the Capital District Transportation Committee, a regional planning group that funnels state and federal money to local communities.
Kate Maynard, Wilton’s director of planning, said the study would help town officials proactively determine needs that should be addressed, and secure more state or federal grants in the future.
"This is a priority for the town and this is a chance to really bring that forward," Maynard said. "It’s really about being in charge of our own destiny."
The Target distribution center, a large truck stop, and the 283,000-square-foot Wilton Developmental Center — the one-time home for the developmentally disabled that is being refurbished into a business park — are all located west of Interstate 87.
The area east of the interstate is less developed, but has a light industrial park and some housing developments.
Town officials say support businesses moving to the area to supply GlobalFoundries may find the area attractive, and that it could be significantly developed in the coming years.
A plan released late last year by the Wilton Global Job Development Corp. suggests that there may be as much as 12.5 million square feet of space open to construction off of Exit 16, and that as many as 10,000 new jobs could be created through the developments.
No businesses have approached the town about building in the area yet, but supervisor Art Johnson said he didn’t expect it to be quiet for long and that he’d like to get the study moving quickly so the town is prepared when the interest materializes.
"I think it’s important that all the zoning and infrastructure be in place because it’s going to be very competitive as these site selectors begin their searches," he said. "I want to be in that game."
The area is already zoned for light industrial and commercial uses, but some minimal changes may be needed and the preparations should begin now, Johnson said.
"I think we’re in pretty good shape, but we want to be sure of that," he said. "That’s all part of good planning."
Business owners who operate in the area currently said they don’t see any glaring issues with the corridor at the moment, but that if more companies arrive, improvements may well by called for.
"Right now, for the businesses that are here, the road seems fine," said Chris Edgerly, the owner of Tru Arc, a metal fabrication company that opened on Commerce Park Drive in 2006. "But if there’s going to be a lot more truck traffic, they may want to widen the road.