New rail line may boost city growth

A new rail line that will connect New Haven, Hartford and Springfield, Mass., is expected to multiply scheduling options and reduce fares for Yalies and New Haven residents traveling by train.

The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded New Haven a $10 million federal grant last week to build a second platform at State Street Station. The platform will play a key role in developing the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield line, which will begin in New Haven and is expected to begin service in late 2016.

“This is a critical project to get the whole New Haven-Hartford-Springfield line off the ground,” said Judd Everhart, Connecticut Department of Transportation director of communications.

The new platform is also expected to minimize delays and congestion throughout New Haven railways by eliminating the need for commuter trains to cross over Northeast Corridor main-line tracks.

New Haven officials such as Ward 7 Alderman Doug Hausladen ’04 have high hopes that the new line will stimulate economic growth in the city. Hausladen praised the walkability of New Haven, its many options for both work and recreation and the plethora of recent civic improvements in the city. He said he hopes that higher efficiency transit between the city and the suburbs will provide incentive for more people to reap the benefits of living and working in the rapidly developing Elm City.

“We have a lot of capacity in New Haven for more residential growth and job growth,” he said. “So we need to work on our commute times into the city and our transportation control methods.”

In a press release last week, Conn. Gov. Dannel Malloy said that he believes the expansion of the State Street Station will be particularly beneficial because the station is within walking distance from many of New Haven’s major employers, particularly those in the growing bioscience sector.

In addition, increased options for commuting into and out of New Haven by rail are expected to alleviate traffic in the state highway system. Jim Travers, director of transportation, traffic and parking for the city of New Haven, said that high volumes of drivers cripple the highway system, making mass movements of people by rail a more efficient option.

A Branford native Nicole Hobbs ’14 observed that many of her neighbors and close relatives traveled into New Haven for work each day.

“I think that expanding the train system here in Connecticut is something that a lot of residents think would be helpful in terms of their morning commute,” she said.

Regan Considine ’16, who hails from Hartford, said that she is excited about the prospect of a new rail option for travelling to and from home. Calling the current Amtrak train that provides service between New Haven and Hartford “slow and annoying,” Considine said she currently drives to and from school because of the lack of a reliable and reasonably priced rail option.

“If they’re smart and they think about what the problems are and run it like they do Metro-North, it would be great,” she said. “It’s so easy to get to New York from here and it’s so much farther [than Hartford]. It should not be that difficult to get to Hartford.”

Considine noted that many students fly into New York City’s LaGuardia Airport at the start of term rather than into Hartford’s Bradley International Airport because, despite Bradley’s proximity to campus, they opt for the cheaper and more predictable rail transit out of New York City. She said she hopes the new line connecting Hartford to New Haven could change this phenomenon.

The recently approved funding for the additional platform at State Street Station will be provided by a federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant. The remaining $7 million necessary to complete the project will come from Connecticut state bonds. Everhart said that the state Bond Commission is expected to approve the funding with “no difficulty.”

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