Could the possibility of a commuter rail between Waterbury and Hartford be worth exploring? U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., says “yes.” He called the extension of a light rail “a good idea.” His explanation: the commuter rail would help relieve highway congestion and help the environment by reducing the amount of gasoline people use.
Rail Line the Right Way to Go?
State lawmakers are calling for a study to determine if the use of the 25.5 mile, privately-owned freight line between Berlin and Waterbury would be a good idea. The line would stop in New Britain, Plainville, Bristol and possibly other locations as well. The study would cost $250,000.
Lieberman says he doesn’t know details of the light rail project but he supports the general idea. The owner of the Massachusetts-based Pan Am Railways line estimates it would cost taxpayers over $50 million to make the necessary upgrades to the already-existing line. Currently, the commuter line is single track. State Transportation Commissioner Joseph Marie thinks the cost to change the track is really closer to $1 billion.
Lieberman says the U.S. has allowed light rail to wither away over the past four decades, which he calls a mistake. He says the proposed rail line between New Haven and Springfield, Mass. would open the door to other projects. That proposed line would likely be funded with federal stimulus money.