Earlier this week, ConnDOT announced that it will hold agency and public scoping hearings for the preparation of an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield commuter line in early December. Along with the Federal Transit Administration and the Federal Rail Administration, ConnDOT plans to hold four public scoping sessions in Connecticut and Massachusetts and one agency hearing in Hartford.
ConnDOT would operate the new commuter rail line, which would run for 62 miles between New Haven, Hartford, and Springfield, Mass. It would serve 12 stations including new ones in Enfield, North Haven/Hamden, and Newington (where riders could transfer to service on the planned Hartford-New Britain busway). Along with environmental and other impacts, the EA will look at development opportunities near train stations. Service alternatives under consideration include taking no action other than routine maintenance, peak-hour commuter service, and a “full-build scenario” which would involve construction of an additional track and allow for all-day service. The corridor in which the new service would run is owned and operated by Amtrak, but ConnDOT has been in negotiations to ensure a reasonable purchase or favorable lease of the tracks.
The estimated completion time of two years is on the longer side for an Environmental Assessment, which is less comprehensive than the Environmental Impact Statement process used in projects which are likely to have significant impacts. Still, this new development is welcome news for a project that has been delayed for years.
The project team also deserves credit for providing seven weeks of notice for the public meetings, the first of which is December 8 in Springfield, Mass. Details on those meetings can be viewed here.