Gov. M. Jodi Rell has announced that her colleagues from Massachusetts and Vermont – Governors Deval Patrick and Jim Douglas, respectively – have joined her in strongly supporting Connecticut’s application to the Federal Rail Administration (FRA) for a $220 million grant for construction work on the long-planned New Haven-Hartford-Springfield, Massachusetts high-speed commuter rail line.
The New Haven-Hartford-Springfield (NHHS) line will eventually extend to Vermont and on to Montreal. Connecticut’s application, formally filed with the FRA last week, included a separate letter of support from Governor Rell as well as the backing of 20 members of Congress from Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont and numerous expressions of support from local officials all along the line.
“Today’s letter makes it clear to the FRA that our states are all pulling in the same direction – and that this project is a priority for the entire region, not just one state out of 50,” Rell said. “Governors Douglas and Patrick share my enthusiasm for the project because we know the enormous potential it holds for job growth and business development as well as moving people and easing traffic congestion.”
In the letter, the governors write that the NHHS project “represents not only a tremendous step forward in swift, efficient, convenient and comfortable travel but also the promise of new and greater economic development, access to colleges and universities located up and down the corridor and the environmental benefits that are obtained through mass transit.”
The state Bond Commission is expected to approve $260 million in state funding for the project when it meets August 17, a commitment that is well above the 20 percent state match required under the federal guidelines and demonstrates Connecticut’s strong support for the project.
The federal and state funding will be used to “double-track” the existing rail route so that trains can easily run in both directions without interference. The route must also be electrified so that the trains can be run without using diesel locomotives.
Plans for the line call for bidirectional service between New Haven and Springfield running Monday-through-Friday on a 30-minute peak period schedule, which would be a major boost for Connecticut commuters and ease congestion on I-91. The current proposal would also add several new stations and enhance the Windsor Locks station with a bus connection to Bradley International Airport.
Earlier this year, Connecticut received $40 million in federal funding for the construction of double-tracking on a 10-mile stretch between Newington and Berlin. That funding was augmented by $26 million from the Bond Commission.
It is expected that the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield line will:
- Reduce the number of vehicles on roads by approximately 4,000 cars each day
- Increase the connectivity of rail and bus systems at all train stations, including the proposed Hartford-New Britain Busway
- Foster better linkages between Bradley International Airport and the region
- Generate close to 4,000 jobs
- Create opportunities for transit-oriented development at rail stations along the line
- Save 1 billion gallons of fossil fuel annually
- Reduce carbon emissions by over 10,000 tons a year