Easy Access, Commuter Rail Gets Boost

When you travel to big cities -- New York, Boston, Washington DC -- its hard not to marvel at the intricate mass transit systems that constantly keep people moving to popular destinations. 

While neither Hartford or New Haven may compare to either metropolis, there are thousands of people who commute to those cities every day.  And there's long been a call to provide a rail system that would aid commuters who don't want to make the trip by car.

Now the crusade to bring a local commuter rail to the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield corridor is getting even more of a boost with a proposal to also extend that rail to Bradley Airport. On Friday Minnesota Rep. James Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation Committee and Connecticut Rep. John Larson toured Bradley and Hartford's Union Station.

Oberstar is in the process or drafting a $400-$450 billion federal transportation bill and said the New Haven to Springfield 62-mile commuter rail project would "be a natural fit for the kind of overhauled transit system that he envisions for America," as reported by The Hartford Courant.

It took years for MTA subway service in New York to be connected to JFK International Airport but now the $1.9 billion AirTrain project has become a success, providing people an easy, cheap travel alternative to the airport.  Lawmakers envision it could do the same for Bradley Airport and even attract travelers from different regions, using Bradley for access to bigger cities. 

Oberstar even suggested that expanding Bradley's freight shipping capacity would ease truck traffic that clogs I-91 and I-95.

The state DOT estimates it will take more than $800 million to modernize tracks and signals, build stations and repair decaying bridges.

Everyone's hoping the president's stimulus plan will have us all singing, "I've been working on the railroad", sooner than later.

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