Connecticut Governor welcomes DOT Secretary LaHood as regional officials outline high-speed rail vision
(The office of Governor Rell issued the following on April 26, 2010.)
HARTFORD, Conn. — Governor M. Jodi Rell, U.S. Senator Christopher J. Dodd and other members of Congress from Connecticut and Massachusetts joined state and regional transportation leaders and Amtrak officials to outline a sweeping, shared vision for high-speed rail in the Northeast for U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, who was visiting the state for a first-hand progress report.
“It is rare for everyone to be pulling in the same direction on big projects like this,” Governor Rell said. “Yet here we are – Connecticut, Massachusetts, Congress and Amtrak – united in our desire to establish real high-speed rail service in a corridor through the heart of New England and enhance the service from Boston to Washington.
“High-speed rail is the key element in our vision for regional economic development,” the Governor said. “Our economy only moves when people and products move – and we want to move them swiftly, efficiently and smoothly all along this critical corridor. We have already won some important battles, including securing stimulus funding for early work along the rail line, and we will be aggressively competing for future funding. Not only competing aggressively, but competing together – as a team.”
Senator Dodd added: “This is a terrific project – it’s really about more than just a 62-mile run, it’s about the growth and development of the whole region with the longer-term vision of connecting New York, Hartford, Springfield and Boston. We have a lot of work ahead of us but are deeply grateful to Secretary LaHood for coming here. That shows a real commitment on the part of the Obama Administration to support these efforts – and to ride the train with us, to actually feel it and see it, really helps.”
Secretary LaHood, Governor Rell, Senator Dodd, U.S. Reps. John B. Larson and Rosa DeLauro (both D-Conn.), Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority General Manager Richard A. Davey, Connecticut DOT Commissioner Joseph F. Marie and Amtrak officials boarded a train in New Haven early today and traveled to Hartford. During the trip Governor Rell, Senator Dodd and Commissioner Marie outlined plans for making high-speed rail though central New England a reality.
At the Capitol later this morning, the officials were joined by U.S. Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), the top leaders of the Connecticut General Assembly and the chairs and ranking members of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee for an extended conversation about the high-speed rail project.
Connecticut and Massachusetts officials are working with Amtrak to enhance commuter service between New Haven, Hartford and Springfield, Mass. President Obama recently announced $40 million in federal stimulus funding for the project, to begin the construction of double tracking from Newington to New Britain. Connecticut has designated $26 million as its share of the double-tracking project.
Representative Larson said, “This project will boost our economy by creating jobs immediately and better connect southern New England to both Boston and New York City. I will continue working with our federal, state, and regional partners to develop a high speed corridor between New Haven and Springfield.”
“As the people’s representatives, it is our job to keep in mind the long-term trajectory of our communities and our nation,” added Representative DeLauro. “And it has been clear for awhile now that we need more high-speed mass transit options here in Connecticut. That is why I, Senator Dodd, Congressman Larson, and everyone else here today have been working hard to establish funding for expanded commuter rail along the New Haven-Springfield corridor. Expanded service along this line will result in an estimated 630,000 more trips a year and over 2 million passenger miles annually. So the benefits are clear and the demand is there. Now we must act.”
Representative Neal said, “High speed rail has the potential to completely transform the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield region. A modern transportation system connecting major cities in western New England will help our regional economy grow. It will also reduce traffic on our roads, limit our dependence on foreign oil and create jobs. I thank Secretary LaHood for briefing us on this exciting project and look forward to making high speed rail in the ‘Knowledge Corridor’ a reality.”
“As America’s only high-speed rail operator, Amtrak is supportive of this initiative to bring high-speed service to the Springfield corridor,” said Drew Galloway, Associate Vice President-Strategic Partnerships for Amtrak. “This collaborative effort between Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont provides the essential vision and leadership necessary to make the project reality.”
“This is clearly a project of regional significance,” said Connecticut DOT Commissioner Marie. “It is vitally important that we demonstrate to Secretary LaHood the regional partnership that we have put together and how well it fits with the President’s goal of building and improving high-speed rail service across the country.”
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 Interstate 91. The current proposal would also add several new stations and enhance the Windsor Locks station with a bus connection to Bradley International Airport.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
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