Sen. Chris Dodd is getting behind the planned Springfield-Hartford-New Haven commuter rail line in a big way, citing the potential public transit corridor as vital to smart growth in the Connecticut Valley.
Starting commuter and high-speed train service along the route “will create new transit villages, get people off the roads, and revitalize our regional economy,” Dodd said as he convened a Senate banking committee hearing in Washington.
“It’s a strategic investment in our economy, our environment, and our quality of life,” Dodd said. “We’ve already begun to make progress in Connecticut — and we can do more across the country.” (Stacom)
Dodd’s help will be instrumental in moving this project along. The Obama administration is very interested in funding public transportation, and there is definitely a political incentive for them to push for expanded commuter and high-speed rail in Connecticut.
The project may even qualify for federal stimulus dollars. From a release sent out by Dodd today:
Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, welcomed news that the Tri-City Corridor project could qualify for federal grant funding under new guidelines announced today by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Under these guidelines, states and regions may now apply for the $8 billion in grants for high speed rail projects provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
“Today’s announcement provides an extraordinary opportunity for the state of Connecticut to be a part of President Obama’s vision for high-speed rail,” said Dodd. “The development of the Tri-City Corridor is one of my top priorities and I am going to work with leaders in my state, Secretary LaHood, and President Obama to get it done.”
It’s nice when he’s inspired, isn’t it? Nothing like running for one’s political life to focus the mind.
There are still plenty of hurdles to overcome, including exhaustive environmental and financial studies, but hopefully, if all goes well, Connecticut will receive federal dollars for the project, and we might actually see some construction over the next five years or so. We’ll see.
By the way, I don’t know when our little commuter rail project suddenly got “high-speed” added to it, but I’m in favor. If the travel time between Springfield, Hartford and New Haven is low, more people will ride and the impact of the service will be much better.
Stacom, Don. “Dodd: Commuter Train Key To ‘Smart Growth’ Development In Connecticut.” Hartford Courant 17 June, 2009.