RiverLink is a proposed new bike/pedestrian bridge to connect North Hartford to Riverside Park and the Connecticut River waterfront.

The RiverLink ramp begins on Pleasant Street at Market Street, rises to bridge I-91, and then descends to the Boathouse in Riverside Park. RiverLink extends Riverside Park west to Market Street, creating a new park entrance at Market Street and a riverfront gateway for North Hartford. RiverLink is the opening segment of The Hartline, a 6-mile linear park and trail from Bloomfield Center to the Connecticut River. The other segments of the Hartline use five miles of city streets and the Griffin Line alignment.

Existing Conditions

The I-91 overpass at Pequot Street was built in the 1970s when I-91 was widened. It replaced an earlier bridge that provided access for pedestrians from the North Meadows to Riverside Park. The bridge can only be reached by a remote one-block public street (Pequot) in the middle of a large parking lot. On the park side, the facility deposits users in a remote and insecure part of the park, hidden from view by the interstate.

The existing facility needs to be better designed and meet contemporary standards. Its steep and repetitive ramping up five flights is uncomfortable for bicycles and does not comply with ADA (adopted after the bridge was constructed). There is also an open 5-story staircase on each end. The open fencing on the ramps and along the bridge does not protect from the interstate noise and provides little sense of security. The bridge’s design is a deterrent to all users, and there is very little pedestrian or bike traffic, despite the lack of other direct river access routes from North Hartford. The existing bridge’s institutional, not to say penitentiary, appearance is inappropriate and unacceptable as a river gateway for the North Hartford community.

Purpose & Need

The RiverLink bridge is critical for the City of Hartford and North Hartford. Currently, there are four ways to access Riverside Park, none readily accessible on foot or by bike from North Hartford. The RiverLink bridge will historic barriers that have for nearly 100 years denied North Hartford ready access to Riverside Park and the riverfront. Further, the RiverLink bridge is only the initial segment of the proposed 6-mile Hartline linear park and trail, which will serve the Clay Arsenal, Upper Albany, and Blue Hills neighborhoods of Hartford, as well as the Town of Bloomfield. These neighborhoods include some of the poorest census tracts in the region, in a community that has historically suffered from underinvestment and outright disinvestment. The RiverLink segment of the Hartline would connect to a 3/4 mile city-street segment from Market Street to Edwards Street, where it continues for 5 miles along the Griffin Line, a little-used rail freight right-of-way that would be converted to a linear park and trail. According to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, “studies show that lower-income and ethnic minority people have access to fewer acres of parks per person and to parks with lower quality, maintenance, and safety