Groups, Electeds: CT Must Put Rail Project on Fast Track

A rendering of proposed improvements to the Hartford train station. The new rail service would connect two of Connecticut's major cities with Massachusetts.

Enfield is one of three towns which would receive new rail stations as part of the New Haven-Hartford Springfield Commuter Rail project. (Station concept rendering above.)

Tri-State joined several transportation, environment, civic and business groups in asking Connecticut Governor Rell to fast track the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield commuter rail line on Tuesday. The coalition was joined at the press conference by House Speaker-Elect Chris Donovan (D-Meriden), whose district would be served by the line, and current Speaker James Amman (D-Milford), in calling for quick approval of the project that would add commuter service from New Haven to Springfield, Mass., stopping in nine other municipalities along the way, including Hartford.

According to the groups, fast-tracking the project to get initial service running within two years will help revitalize Connecticut’s struggling economy by providing short and long term jobs, help reduce the number of cars on Connecticut’s roads and promote transit-oriented development and mixed-income housing in towns along the rail corridor. The groups called for immediate action to get initial service operating as a first step towards full-scale commuter rail between New Haven, Hartford and Springfield.

Currently, the state is allocating 2 years for the Environmental Assessment, a process that should take less than 12 months in any case, and much less in this case where transit has operated in the corridor for decades. In their preliminary study, consultants for ConnDOT found none of the potential issues — noise, takings, wetlands impacts, etc. — that could be expected in a new rail project. So one wonders why so much delay seems to be built into the process, especially when having the project “shovel ready” in the near term could bring in federal stimulus money.

Kevin Nursick, a ConnDOT spokesman, responded to the groups by saying that Connecticut was asking Amtrak to run commuter service until the state’s plan is ready. He told the New Haven Register that the state does not view funding as a major obstacle to the project and suggested that the timeline could be moved up by scheduling station improvements after the trains are up and running.

Other groups calling for the prioritization of the line include Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Regional Plan Association, ConnPIRG, Environment Connecticut and the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.

Image: Via ConnDOT.

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5 comments to Groups, Electeds: CT Must Put Rail Project on Fast Track

  • Dan

    “Currently, the state is allocating 2 years for the Environmental Assessment, a process that should take less than 12 months in any case, and much less in this case where transit has operated in the corridor for decades.”

    This line has been in service since the 1850s!!! I understand maybe a twelve-month delay for organization and rolling stock reasons, but if Rell really wanted this, she could have a bare-bones service running by next week.

  • Scott

    I think it’s very sad that this project has only been “talk” and not too much doing. The railroad has existed for years and of they state had anyone with a brain, they would have had this line running before Amtrak decided to rip out most of the double mainline from N.Haven to Enfield. The fact that nothing has even happened yet has to make you wonder if it is going to even happen. The construction would not take long at all. Your talking reinstalling the 2nd mainline, signals where they are needed and bridge and crossing work. Amtrak could provide additional trainsets until the State has thier own for this service

  • [...] board the service a day. The bill didn’t pass that year; 14 years later advocates are still asking ConnDOT to speed up its study, though at least the planned service now runs all the way to Springfield, [...]

  • [...] for the project and allowing implementation — which appeared to be stagnating as late as winter 2008 — to continue. Connecticut now has over $440 million in federal and state money lined up for [...]

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