Smart growth supporters called on to oppose plans to construct a new New Britain and Hartford busway at Sept. 7 hearing

Sep 6th, 2011 | By | Category: Transportation

A dispatch from Richard M. Stowe, founder and director of Rail*Trains*Ecology*Cycling (RailTEC),

Last week I was granted intervenor status in this week’s Sept. 7th inland-wetland & watercourse hearing on the New Britain-Hartford Busway project.  I remain steadfastly opposed to building a half-billion dollar highway (for buses) on Amtrak & abandoned Conrail right-of-way.  This right-of-way is needed to integrate the City of New Britain and Central Connecticut State University to provide a one-seat train ride to key cities, such as New Haven, Stamford & New York, on the Northeast Corridor.See forwarded message below for further detail, or contact me by phone at 203-966-4387.

Dear RailTEC members and rail & bicycle advocates:

I am pleased to inform you that I have been granted intervenor status in this week’s Sept. 7th inland-wetland & watercourse hearing on the New Britain-Hartford Busway project.

Molly McKay, the transportation chair of the Connecticut Sierra Club is also serving as an intervenor.  Jim RePass will be serving as Molly McKay’s witness.  I contacted Joseph M. Clift & asked that he serve as my witness.
If construction is commenced on the busway, it will have severe and unavoidable adverse impacts on wetland & watercourses within the project area.  DOT’s remedy = artificially created wetland replacement.  Our friends at CFE refer to these manmade wetlands as “enhanced wetlands.”

A better way to mitigate impact is to substitute a new highway with a rebuilt single track rail corridor with siding in key locations.  Single track rail takes up less than half the right-of-way needed than building a new asphalt highway enhanced with 3 1/2 miles of concrete retaining walls and hundreds of parking spaces.  A single track alignment will allow for a full 9.4-mile multi-use trail between New Britain and Hartford (instead of the 5-mile trail to a “cul-de-sac to nowhere”) parallel to the tracks – a “rail and trail” solution.

This highway project is on a key section of a historic railroad right-of-way – The Highland Line, which in its heyday ran from Hartford to Danbury, CT & Brewster, NY.

But the highest & best use of this right-of-way today is to incorporate downtown New Britain and Central Connecticut State University into the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail project…was never studied in the FEIS process.  It’s all about connecting the New Britain Museum of American Art and Yale University Art Gallery, or Peabody Museum of Natural History by train…its all about connecting CCSU & New Britain to New Haven & GCT in a one seat ride to NYC that would run as a super express (1:30 minute travel time between New Haven and GCT) from New Haven with only 2 stops (Stamford & another New Haven Line Connecticut city, or town – Bridgeport, Fairfield, Westport, Norwalk, or Greenwich.)  These Hartford-New Britain trains to New York would be in addition to the current Metro-North New Haven Line schedule.

There is a role for buses in public transportation planning between New Britain and Hartford & the role for buses is most efficaciously met by routing buses on a 9.7-mile local street network parallel to the proposed busway highway.  These local streets will serve as an advantage for bus riders because passengers will be much closer to their homes & work & other destinations.  I support a state expenditure of $20 million toward purchasing 31 buses to be operated on local streets.
Please attend the public hearing in opposition to the permit, to halt any plans to construct a new highway between New Britain and Hartford expressly built for buses.
When:  Wednesday, September 7, 2011 at 6:30 P.M.
Where:  Welte Auditorium
             Central Connecticut State University
             1615 Stanley Street
             New Britain, CT 06050
Richard M. Stowe
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