After three years of negotiations, the New Haven Parking Authority and the Connecticut Department of Transportation have agreed to the construction of a new 1,200-space garage facility at Union Station, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. announced Wednesday.
Projected to cost $21 million, completion of the new garage is expected in between 18 months and two years, said Raymond Cox, assistant rail administrator for the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
New Haven Parking Authority Executive Director William Kilpatrick said the city is planning to issue revenue bonds to support the construction of the new parking garage. “This is something that has been way overdue and it’s going to make everyone’s life a lot easier,” Kilpatrick said.
DeStefano said the new garage facility would benefit commuters and visitors to the city by promoting train use through better access to Union Station.
“Being able to get in and out of the train station in terms of parking and in terms of where you’re going are really important in creating economic opportunity,” DeStefano said.
He also discussed how the improvement of the city’s infrastructure, with the addition of the new garage, would help families, businesses and jobs by reducing traffic.
“This development will allow for greater access, an easier commute for train riders, and hopefully, for fewer commuters having to be stuck in traffic along I-95 every morning,” DeStefano said in a press release. “You typically can’t find a parking space in the current garage facility after 7 a.m. on most days.”
Union Station has some of the largest commuter traffic in the state, partially due to the facts that travelers can purchase tickets at the station and that they have access to the highest-speed Amtrak line, said Roland Lemar, New Haven Public Information Office Director. The new parking garage will make the station even more accessible to commuters driving from neighboring towns into New Haven to take the train.
“A garage itself isn’t particularly exiting,” Lemar said. “It’s the people that come. It’s the knowledge that there is a place to park.”
Doug Johnson, a visitor to New Haven traveling to New York, said he missed his train because it took him twenty minutes to find an overnight garage in the vicinity of Union Station.
“It is the second time in a row that I’ve come to New Haven and have missed my train because the garage was full,” he said. “The situation is desperate.”
He said the new parking garage would benefit the city by preventing travelers departing from Union Station from taking overnight parking spaces elsewhere in the city.
Cox said once the initial capital investment to build the new garage has been recovered, the state of Connecticut will receive 70 percent of the profits, while the remaining 30 percent will be allotted to the New Haven parking authority. Additionally, the lease between the City and the State for the existing Union Station garage has been extended 30 years to have the same end date as the lease for the site of the new garage.
Cox said Wednesday was the last day Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner James Byrnes would be in office, and that the new parking garage marked the last accomplishment he wanted to make before retiring.