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Connecticut Awarded $30 Million in Federal Rail Funding

The money will go toward the state's planned New Haven-Hartford-Springfield commuter line.

Connecticut could receive $30 million of the more than $2 billion in federal rail funding rejected by the state of Florida and intends to invest the money in the construction of the state’s planned New Haven-Hartford-Springfield intercity high-speed and commuter rail line.

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced the award that although welcome is significantly less than the Gov. Dannel P. Malloy sought in an application he submitted to the Federal Rail Road Administration in April. Despite this, state officials hailed the news as a “win” Monday that moves the project that much closer to its targeted operational date of 2016.

“This is a significant step forward for Connecticut when it comes to strengthening our transportation infrastructure, which for too long has been neglected and had the wrong kind of impact on our economy,” Malloy, a Democrat, said in a release Monday. “…The rail project will form the backbone of an interconnected, regional rail network linking key economic centers through the northeast corridor. Supporting up to 50 daily passenger trains and reaching speeds up to 110 miles an hour, this line will provide some of the best rail service in the nation.”

State officials are hoping that the 62-mile rail line would revive a long under utilized rail corridor connecting Springfield, MA, to New Haven, with trains running as often as every 30 minutes during peak hours. The line would have 12 stops, including the communities of Windsor and Windsor Locks (Enfield is also being studied as a potential stop along the line), and would feature high-speed rail as well as commuter service along the corridor.

Although the line would function primarily as a commuter service through central Connecticut, it qualifies for federal money earmarked for high-speed rail transportation because high-speed trains running from New York to Vermont and Montreal would also use the line.

Kevin Nursick, a spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Transportation, said that in addition to the $30 million in funding received by Connecticut, other states including New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Maine also received funding totaling more than $100 million. Amtrak will receive $795 million for its Northeast Corridor to help increase speeds, improve on-time performance and add seats to one of the nation’s most heavily congested rail corridors.

“This is a major win for the region and its long-term vision for rail service,” Nursick said by e-mail. “Including this $30 million, Connecticut has received $191 million in federal funding for this project, and the state has committed another $286 million in bonding. That is $477 million for a project expected to cost $583 million.”

Nursick said state officials were preparing a meeting with FRA representatives in the coming weeks to discuss “next steps” in the project, including whether any additional federal funding might be available.

Twenty-four states, the District of Columbia and Amtrak submitted nearly 100 applications seeking some portion of the $2 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for construction of a Tampa Bay-to-Orlando high speed rail line . Rick Scott, Florida’s Republican governor, said he was rejecting the money because the line’s projected ridership numbers were “overly-optimistic” and it would ultimately end up costing Florida taxpayers money.

The FRA selected projects in 15 states and Amtrak to receive Florida's rejected money.

"Earlier this year, President Obama and I made a commitment to improve and expand America's transportation system, including the development of a modern, national high-speed rail network," Vice President Joe Biden said in a release Monday announcing the awards. "And today, we’re announcing investments that will continue our progress toward making this vision a reality. These projects will put thousands of Americans to work, save hundreds of thousands of hours for American travelers every year, and boost U.S. manufacturing by investing hundreds of millions of dollars in next-generation, American-made locomotives and railcars.”

Max Headroom June 05, 2011 at 06:06 PM
Also - I've been in many major cities with spectacularly efficient mass transit - NYC, London, Barcelona and others - and dearly wish such things could be implemented everywhere. You can get anywhere in those cities in minutes, all on foot (sometimes just standing on them) and it's wonderful.
R Eleveld June 05, 2011 at 11:16 PM
The thread has been interesting. What I referred to was use of temporary stations, at low cost to see if there is any real interest in using the rails. In a manner of speaking try it before you buy it. Max's hub and spoke system is probably a viable option, and it is one that has been discussed here in the Windsor area as it relates to our commercial areas in Windsor, East Granby, Windsor Locks, and Bloomfield. This sort of thinking is what we should be doing at relative modest cost, instead of multiple millions. Relative to monorails, the costs can run from 10 to 100MM per mile. It is like the busway, nice but not economical. Disney has talked about using more monorails, but the cost for a private business has gotten to high. For government the cost would be many multiples with Davis-Bacon and other government requirements. Let's be real and understand these make work projects are just that make work projects, with no economic justification. Consider the comments I wrote above at 12:53pm on Friday, May 13, 2011. So who do you want to have 'spend your money.' The government which truly has little concern about the cost or the relative benefit?
R Eleveld June 05, 2011 at 11:44 PM
Socialist Worker. Do you own any type of retirement plan or fund?, investment account?, Does your union own one?, Do you or your parents depend on a pension?, Do you depend on some form of government benefit? or know anyone that depends on any government benefit? As long as all those people are willing to go without any income, or retirement benefit or Social Security check, or paycheck for employees of government, or retirement account, and I can go on and on, we can do what you suggest. As long as we need no money from anyone your idea would work. Its called Bankruptcy and it would invalidate ALL government contracts including union contracts. So then how do we operate government, pay for roads, and hospitals, and schools if we can't borrow money. If we stop paying interest, do you think ANYONE Chinese for one, will give the government money to run the government? Sorry, I forgot, we can print money... that creates classic inflation of too many dollars chasing too few goods. To explain it, if I have $1K and 1K widgets, the price is a $1 per widget, but if I have $2K for the same 1K widgets, then the widgets are $2 per widget. The widgets are of the same quality, however because I have more dollars, the widgets cost more, a simplistic explanation of classic inflation. That is what happened to real estate in the late 80's and AGAIN in the mid 2000's. Inflation does not hurt the upper income classes, it hurts the middle class and decimates the poor.
Rick Torres June 08, 2011 at 12:20 AM
Good Job. You understand the folly of government anything. To think that government officials aren't going to pursue their own self interests is ridiculous. We all do that. It is the same reason that Thomas Payne thought that the right size of government is as small as possible. We've come a long way from that idealized beginning.
Max Headroom June 08, 2011 at 03:35 AM
We don't live in anything like Paine's world. Consider that itty-bitty Connecticut has a bigger population than the original 13 colonies. Maybe government is as small as it can get. I'm open to arguments otherwise, not including sweeping generalizations.

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