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Friday, July 01, 2011 - Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced it obligated $72.8 million in High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program funds to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT).
The money will be used to restore a 50-mile rail line between Springfield and East Northfield, Mass., along the Connecticut River Valley. The improvements will enable Amtrak to cut travel times on its Vermonter line — which runs between St. Albans, Vt., and Washington, D.C. — by nearly 30 minutes, according to a press release.
The Massachusetts portion of the Vermonter corridor first was built in the 1800s. In the 1980s, Amtrak shifted its service to a line located farther east because of deteriorating track conditions on the original line. The original passenger route is located on Pan Am Southern Railway's Connecticut River mainline. MassDOT also plans to use the federal grant to build stations in Greenfield and Northampton.
Last year, the USDOT obligated $50 million in HSIPR program funds to the Vermont Agency of Transportation to improve 190 miles of track between St. Albans and Vernon, shaving 30 minutes off Vermonter travel times within the state. Longer term, the improvements being made in Vermont and Massachusetts will increase reliability and enable future service expansion to Montreal.
On July 8th, John Bernick, CTDOT’s Project Manager for the NHHS Rail Project, was the guest speaker at the Greater Meriden Chamber of Commerce “Breakfast Club Celebrates”. His presentation focused on the many opportunities for businesses near the transit stations. The rail service provides an engine for local economic growth and station area development. A primary goal of the project is to provide an interconnected transportation system that enhances livable and walkable communities. He also noted that Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the project are fully funded and on track to start service in 2016. In addition, CTDOT is working directly with officials in each town to integrate station planning with community plans for redevelopment of station areas. View a video of the presentation View a copy of the presentation. Read the Meriden Record Journal’s article on the event
On June 2nd and 3rd, the Regional Plan Association (RPA) and America 2050 sponsored a program entitled “Dependable Rail in 2016 – What will It Mean for the Knowledge Corridor Region?” The session focused on leveraging NHHS rail investments for economic growth. Tom Maziarz, CTDOT Chief of Policy and Planning, described how the improved service will connect the corridor to expanded markets for business, labor, and higher education and provide opportunities for local development at stations. The RPA presented an analysis of population and employment centers and their distribution within the NHHS corridor. The session also explored successful strategies in other rail corridors both within the region and nationwide for promoting economic development related to rail improvements. Read more on RPA's website.
On April 13th, the CTDOT kicked off a series of meetings with public officials in communities along the NHHS corridor to provide an overview of the NHHS project, an update on the Environmental Assessment currently underway for the project, and to discuss local issues and opportunities related to the project. The Environmental Assessment is planned for completion this fall. A key issue in each town is the plan for upgrading the train station, access issues, future parking and the potential for new transit-oriented development.
Meetings have been held in or are planned for New Haven, North Haven, Hamden, Wallingford, Meriden, Berlin, Newington, West Hartford, Hartford, Windsor, Windsor Locks, Enfield and Springfield.
These meetings, which are part of the public outreach for the Environmental Assessment, will provide an opportunity for public officials to provide input to the environmental review and design process. Plans for information meetings, open to the public, in communities along the corridor, will be announced in the coming months and formal hearings on the environmental document are planned for the fall. Read more »
On April 12, 2011, Dave Carol of Parsons Brinckerhoff, Program Manager for the NHHS Rail Project, gave a presentation on the NHHS rail program at a joint meeting of the New England Section and the Connecticut Chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers. The presentation provided an overview of the program, next steps for funding, designing and implementing the work, and opportunities for transportation engineers to become involved in the work.
On April 7, 2011, John Bernick, CTDOT’s Project Manager for the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Railroad Project, gave a presentation on the project during a meeting of the Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency (CCRPA). The CCRPA serves the communities of Berlin, Bristol, Burlington, Plainville, Plymouth, and Southington. The presentation provided an overview of the proposed service and highlighted the benefits of increased passenger service to communities along the corridor.
The NHHS service will greatly improve mobility within the region, providing an alternative to driving that is both safe and cost effective. We hope that you will explore this website and join us for public meetings to be scheduled in the coming months to learn more and to become involved in this exciting project. Read more »
This site has been created to facilitate public input and provide information about the process and schedule. We invite you to explore the site regarding these studies. We very much welcome your comments »