Friday, February 20, 2015

Connecticut Governor Proposes $1.7 Billion in Rail Improvements


HARTFORD, Conn. – Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has proposed spending $1.7 billion in rail improvements over the next five fiscal years as part of a two-year $40 billion budget proposal made to the state's General Assembly on Wednesday. The day before, Malloy and the Connecticut Department of Transportation issued the 72-page "Let's Go CT - Connecticut's Bold Vision for a Transportation Future" plan, detailing a $100 billion program to upgrade highway, rail, bus, and seaport services in 30 years.

Although no funding is in place for the long-term plan, the governor's "Five Year Ramp-Up Transportation Plan" calls for the state to spend a total of $6.5 billion, with an additional $3.4 billion assumed to be provided by Federal sources in fiscal years 2016 through 2020.

Connecticut's Interstate highways are among the nation's oldest, and substantial portions of the proposed $9.9 billion is slated to go to replacement of major bridges and highway interchanges, as well as widening some of the remaining original segments. But mass transit is far from forgotten. The majority of the rail allotment will go to the Northeast Corridor and its commuter branches, operated as the New Haven Line for the state by Metro-North Railroad. Several major projects also are planned for the 62-mile New Haven-Hartford-Springfield, Mass., line, and Shore Line East commuter rail services that operate over the Northeast Corridor.

In his budget address, Malloy said, "Connecticut's railways have helped shape the history of our state. But for generations we've paid them lip service, without committing to the kind of improvements they need to remain just usable, but a dynamic part of our economy." The Five Year Ramp-Up Plan provides funding to finish design and construction of replacement and additional stations on the New Haven-Hartford line, and new stations on the Metro-North New Haven Line. Replacement of double track over the length of the New Haven-Hartford line also is in the plans. The governor's address mentioned that these improvements could "open up the possibility of new routes to Boston and Montreal."

Also included in the five-year plan is starting the replacement of a century-old moveable bridge in South Norwalk, and repairs to other old moveable bridges that have suffered mechanical problems leading to Metro-North and Amtrak train delays in recent years. The single-track manual block Waterbury Branch, owned by the state and operated by Metro-North, is expected to receive a signal system.

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