State Approves $5.75M in Funding to Expand Rail Lines

The governor has announced $5.75 million in funding to revamp the 62-mile rail line spanning from New Haven to Springfield and build new stations along the Metro-North New Haven Line.

According to Gov. Dannel Malloy’s office, the State Bond Commission approved the funding Monday morning. The money will be combined with a previously approved sum of $4 million.

Funding will allow the state to build new stations along the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Rail, now called the CTrail Hartford Line, and improve existing stations in Windsor and Windsor Locks. The money will also allow plans to move forward for the design of a potential station in Hamden, the governor’s office said.

According to the NHHS Rail website, when all is said and done, trains are expected to run at speeds of up to 110 mph, cutting travel time from New Haven to Springfield to 73 minutes. The corridor will include stations in New Haven, Wallingford, Meriden, Hartford, Berlin, Windsor, Windsor Locks and Springfield, with trains running every 30 minutes during peak travel times. It will also provide service to New York City, Boston and Vermont.

The state Department of Transportation is seeking a service provider to help operate and maintain the CTrail Hartford Line beginning at the end of 2016.

As for the Metro-North New Haven Line, funding will allow the state to build a new station in Orange and construct the long-discussed Barnum Station in Bridgeport. The state also expects to make improvements to the existing Merritt Seven Station along the Danbury Branch, the governor’s office said.

"Creating a commuter rail line along the I-91 corridor is part of our transformative transportation vision for Connecticut,” Malloy said in a statement Monday. “This bond authorization will give this important project needed momentum. Completing environmental work and design is what will propel the projects toward reality. This $365 million project will improve the quality of intercity service along the corridor and enhance regional rail connections."

Republicans, however, fear that using bonds to pay for large-scale projects like this one could create lingering debt in the future.

"You're creating money by creating a bigger obligation going down the road for future generations," said State Sen. Scott Frantz, of Greenwich.

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