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Rell Announces New Rail Design Funds, Parking Study

UPDATE Gov. M. Jodi Rell today announced that $3.6 million to fund design work for maintenance and improvements to the New Haven Rail Line is expected to be approved by the State Bond Commission at its Jan. 30 meeting. WestportNow.com Image
Rell: Bond Commission expected to act Jan. 30. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

The design work will include platform repair, canopy improvements, safety improvements to stairs, ramps, handrails and lighting fixtures.

The governor also announced that she has ordered creation of a task force to undertake a new review of parking management and capacity issues along the New Haven Line.

A visual inspection report completed two years ago by the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT) at Rell’s direction identified what was then estimated at $389 million in needed repairs and maintenance on New Haven Line stations. (See WestportNow Feb. 23, 2007)

“Investing this $3.6 million in design work will allow us to later fund several ‘shovel ready’ economic stimulus projects,” Rell said.“The result will be improvements at stations from Greenwich to Stamford to Bridgeport to New Haven.”

In her 2007-09 budget, Rell had committed $5 million in her third transportation package as a kick-off to fund a statewide rail station improvement program to be managed by CDOT.

Westport’s Saugatuck and Greens Farms stations were cited as in need of numerous repairs in the section of the report devoted to the two stations.

“Individually, each of these is relatively small,” Rell said in a statement today. “But, collectively, they add up to some important improvements for the thousands of commuters streaming through our stations each day.”

In a separate announcement, Rell said she had ordered creation of a task force to undertake a new review of parking management and capacity issues along the New Haven Line and Shore Line East commuter rail corridors.

“Tens of thousands of commuters – some with parking permits and some without – compete for limited parking spaces every day at stations up and down our rail lines. I believe there has to be a better way,” Rell said.

“I am asking the Department of Transportation to convene a task force – including the Connecticut Commuter Rail Council and the regional planning agencies – to identify major issues and develop recommendations.

“As we add rail cars and expand the capacity of our rail system, we need short- and longer-range solutions to a problem that has plagued rail commuters for too long.”

The governor noted that the policies for parking along the New Haven and Shore Line East lines can vary dramatically from station to station, exacerbated by the fact that while most are state-owned, some are municipally-owned and/or operated.

Rell directed the new task force to make sure that all voices are heard.

“Despite our efforts over the past few years to increase parking for rail commuters, parking policies that vary from station to station and the lack of adequate parking in many areas are problems that will only be relieved with cooperation and agreement from commuters, the municipalities, planning agencies and all of our stakeholders,” she said.

CDOT Commissioner Joseph F. Marie said he has asked James P. Redeker, the DOT’s new chief of the Bureau of Public Transportation, to convene the task force. Redeker officially joined the Connecticut DOT on Tuesday after more than 30 years with New Jersey Transit.

The New Haven line includes 19 stations between New Haven and Greenwich, plus 17 stations along the Waterbury, New Canaan and Danbury branch lines. The state owns all but three of the stations (those three are Bridgeport, South Norwalk and Greenwich.

The New Haven Line, with more than 35 million passenger trips a year, is among the busiest in the country.

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