The New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Rail line is closer than ever to fruition, now that the project has won $40 million from the federal government’s high-speed rail initiative. Thanks to Gov. Jodi Rell, ConnDOT Commissioner Joe Marie, CT House Speaker Chris Donovan, US Sen. Chris Dodd, and advocates, tracks will soon be on the ground for a transit project that had been on the drawing board for nearly a decade and appeared stuck in limbo just two years ago.
The announcement comes after months of advocacy by Tri-State and Connecticut groups that recognized, after President Obama announced last April that the federal government would fund high-speed rail, that this funding could put momentum behind the New Haven-Springfield project. In August, TSTC and 21 New England groups sent a joint letter of support for the project to the Federal Rail Administration, and through the winter Tri-State called on state leaders to make the down payment needed to show the federal government that it was serious about the project. They did so earlier this month.
The rail funds will pay for just a small portion of a project that is expected to cost $880 million to complete. But more could be on the way if Connecticut officials maintain the pace. As the Transport Politic points out, another $2.5 billion for high-speed rail is available in the federal government’s fiscal 2010 budget, with an additional $1 billion per year proposed for the next five years. Last December, ConnDOT Commissioner Marie said the agency had fast-tracked the project’s remaining environmental and engineering studies so that the state will be able to apply for a grant much larger than the $62 million it requested for this round. Tri-State and others had recommended that the agency do this in 2008.
Other Awards in the Region
New York will receive $151 million in rail funds, with most of it going towards the Albany-Schenectady Empire Corridor. New Jersey is receiving funds for improvements to the Northeast Corridor. The full list of awards is available here (PDF file).