Category Archives: Connecticut

Shoreline Officials Want To Hit The Brakes On Federal Railroad Proposal

A  federal proposal to run tracks for Amtrak high-speed trains through a new route in affluent Fairfield County drew fire Thursday from the mayor of the region’s second-biggest city.

Mayor David Martin said Thursday he likes the plan to expand capacity at Stamford’s busy train station. But he’s against building new track routes to Greenwich and to Westport that might eat into his city’s neighborhoods or commercial base.

“This plan looks more like fantasy than fact, and we’re going to fight it,” U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal told reporters.

The Federal Railroad Administration’s proposal to overhaul sections of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor route in Connecticut has already hit heavy resistance in southeastern Connecticut, where the agency wants a new 30-mile inland segment to bypass the curving, twisting tracks between Old Saybrook and Kenyon, R.I.

Martin is the first Fairfield County leader to raise concerns about how it would affect the southwestern region, but Blumenthal predicted that opposition will keep growing.

“The feeling in Stamford is similar to southeastern Connecticut: People want safe, reliable and fast trains, but the devil is in the details,” Blumenthal said.

The FRA met stiff opposition in Connecticut last week when it released a massive report documenting how it wants to modernize Amtrak’s heavily used but badly deteriorating 456-mile Northeast Corridor route from Washington, D.C. to Boston.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Sen. Chris Murphy, U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney and Blumenthal all slammed the proposal for Connecticut, where Amtrak’s Acela and Northeast Regional trains run along the shoreline from Greenwich to Stonington.

The Old Saybrook bypass would “eviscerate neighborhoods, historic landmarks and real estate values,” they said in a joint statement condemning the idea.

The FRA maps also suggest new tracks between eastern Greenwich and Stamford’s train station, and another – far longer – new segment from east of the station to Westport.

The FRA hasn’t specified precisely where it would build new tracks; its report refers to constructing “aerial structures” above I-95 and possibly using the highway’s embankments, but FRA staffers emphasize that exact routings would be have to be worked out with local officials. The report and maps are at http://www.necfuture.com/flipbook/feis_highlights/default.html#4/z.

Opponents and the FRA both acknowledge that there’s currently no funding source, and Blumenthal has said the potential $10 billion to $30 billion cost of a mile-long tunnel beneath Old Lyme is simply unaffordable.

On Thursday, about 100 southeastern Connecticut residents gathered at town hall to discuss a strategy for blocking the Old Saybrook bypass. SECoast, a regional organization leading the fight, warned of a lawsuit if the plan advances.

The FRA wants a plan to rebuild the Northeast Corridor to accommodate a much more frequent schedule of next-generation Acela trains as well as more Northeast Regional service. The corridor links Boston, New York, Trenton, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., a congested mega-hub of people and jobs that’s expected to grow over the next three decades.

The agency wants to clear chokepoints and slow zones, allowing for faster runs and far more trains as the schedule expands over the next several decades.

In Connecticut, that means shaving 20 percent off the travel time of Acela’s Boston to New York City run by building modern tracks on straight alignments and free of grade crossings.

“Rather than spending billions to save 25 minutes on travel time, why not invest millions to save five minutes on parking, five minutes on ticketing, five minutes on reliability, five minutes on connectivity?,” said Gregory Stroud, head of SECoast.

“For many travelers the 25 extra minutes spent in a comfortable seat, writing email, is the least of their worries. Let’s invest first in longer trains, in safer closer-spaced trains through positive train control. With limited dollars let’s invest in the New Haven to Springfield corridor, which will nurture Connecticut communities, not destroy them,” he said.

The FRA has emphasized that without state support, the proposal won’t move forward.

Cuomo orders higher security measures on mass transit

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week signed an executive order that gives New Jersey and Connecticut law enforcement jurisdiction on New York’s public transportation services and facilities.

The order is aimed at allowing security and counterterrorism officials in both states to assist New York in ensuring public safety at locations traditionally targeted by terrorists, according to a press release issued by Cuomo’s office.

“With the busy holiday season in full swing, we are taking every precaution necessary to mitigate potential terrorist threats and keep people safe,” Cuomo said. “This order gives our partners in New Jersey and Connecticut greater ability to help patrol and protect our mass transit networks. Together we will continue to remain vigilant, and I urge all travelers to stay alert and safe throughout the holidays.”

The holiday season tends to be a time of heightened alert and risk of terror attacks as hundreds of thousands of commuters travel between New York, New Jersey and Connecticut each day via mass transit systems, including inter-state rail, bus and ferry systems.

Increased manpower and overall law enforcement presence will allow governments throughout the region to protect public safety and provide an additional reassurance to commuters, Cuomo’s press release said.

The order was issued on Dec. 8 and will remain in effect for 30 days.

Lakeville Anniversary

October 28, 1965, is the 50th anniversary of the last train run on the former CNE/New Haven Railroad between Canaan & Lakeville CT.  It started at the historic Canaan Railroad Station, crossed two rivers (Blackberry & Housatonic), went between the two Twin Lakes, through the towns of Taconic & Salisbury & ended in Lakeville, a distance of 8 miles.  Was active for nearly 100 years & survived previous petitions for abandonment. the trestle in Lakeville over Route 41 was removed in 1950.  Housatonic RR removed the diamond at Canaan about 3 or 4 years ago. the only two businesses serviced before the abandonment in 1965 were Tri State (not sure of the last name) in Salisbury & the Community Service in Lakeville.

LakevilleLakevilleStationLakeville Station

(all photos courtesy of Hopewell Junction Restoration Project

LakevilleSalisburyStationWestSalisbury Station

LakevilleTaconicStationCloseTaconic Station

LakevilleTwinLakesCausewayTwin Lakes Causeway

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See more pictures of this old railroad

Great Movie of New York Central and New Haven Trains in 1961

PenneyVanderbilt

If you like trains in the New York City and Connecticut area, like New York Central Railroad, and/or like New Haven Railroad, like “old” (well, 1961 was not “old” for a lot of us; then you cannot miss this movie.

http://archive.org/details/6358_HM_NY_Central_and_NYNHH_Electric_Operations_July_1961_01_00_54_11

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Above: New Haven electric locomotive on Park Avenue viaduct.

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Above: New Haven MU train at Stamford (the station before the old station)

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Above: New Haven “Washboard Electrics” at Stamford

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Mail train (called M&E for mail and express) on the West Side Freight Line headed for the General Post Office on 8th Avenue. Motive Power is RS3’s. The old R Motors that used to haul these went to the South Shore.

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Above is a NY Central “P Motor” at the 125th Street Station.. These were the BIG electrics that came from Cleveland when they took out power into/out of Cleveland Union Terminal. None of these were preserved.

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Above is…

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How Did CT Decline?

The Arts Mechanical

It’s simple really.  Too many people here started to get greedy and pushing for their piece of the pie rather than watching what was happening to the pie.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jimpowell/2013/08/01/how-did-rich-connecticut-morph-into-one-of-americas-worst-performing-economies/5/

It didn’t help that the decline happened industry by industry, slowly over decades.  It was all to easy for state officials to convince themselves that the problems weren’t real, that nothing they did was causing the problems. This was compounded by CT’s economic diversity. It was easy to say that the state didn’t need a textile industry or a brass industry when they weren’t significant parts of the economy.  The problem was that the brass industry, the textile industry, the wire industry, the optics industry and all the other supported a bunch of supporting shops and small manufacturing companies that closed up too.  Bit by bit the pie just shrank.

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Deteriorating Westport RR span needs to be replaced

Metro-North Railroad commuters know what to expect when the 118-year-old Walk Bridge in Norwalk fails to close after boats pass underneath — long hours stuck on a train waiting for repairs.

A federal Northeast Corridor advisory commission says the Walk Bridge, and three other 100-year-old rail spans in Westport, Greenwich and between Stratford and Milford, are seriously deteriorated and in need of replacement.

“These aging infrastructure assets are unreliable, technologically obsolete and increasingly prone to failures that create delays for riders,” the Northeast Corridor Infrastructure and Operations Advisory Commission said in its first capital plan.

Established by Congress to develop recommendations for the rail corridor between Washington, D.C., and Boston, the Northeast commission proposes spending billions of dollars over the next five years to replace bridges and improve the vital rail system.

All of the Connecticut bridges highlighted by the commission are beyond the definition of old. The Devon rail bridge, which spans the Housatonic River between Stratford and Milford, was completed in 1905 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“Bridges built in the 1800s are, by definition, safety concerns,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn, who, along with others, is calling on Congress to immediately allocate $555 million for rail safety projects.

“Many of these bridges can be labeled as structurally deficient,” Murphy said. “I think we have to show commuters we’re serious about putting money in safety upgrades. I worry accidents, in combination with Congressional inaction, is going to start chilling ridership.”

James Cameron, founder of the Commuter Action Group, said the bridges are a disaster waiting to happen.

“It’s not a matter of if those bridges will fail, but when,” Cameron said. “So their replacement shouldn’t be an issue for debate but funding immediately, if not a decade ago.”

Victorian-era bridges

The four largest rail bridges in Fairfield County — the Cos Cob Bridge in Greenwich, the Saugatuck River Bridge in Westport, the Norwalk Walk Bridge and the Devon Bridge over the Housatonic River — are remnants of another time.

Only the Walk Bridge, built in 1896, is now scheduled for replacement, at a cost of $465 million.

The Cos Cob Bridge over the Mianus River was completed in 1904, and is the busiest moveable bridge on the New Haven Line, which last year carried nearly 40 million passengers.

Estimates to replace the structure range up to $800 million.

“This bridge faces serious challenges caused by aging components and deferred maintenance,” the Northeast commission said in its report, noting there is no funding “available or programmed” for replacement over the next five years.

The commission said if $50 million was available now, Connecticut could begin designing a new bridge.

The Saugatuck River Bridge was completed in 1904 and carries a replacement price tag of $350 million.

“Age and deferred maintenance have caused deterioration affecting both its electrical and mechanical components,” the commission noted.

Connecticut plans to spend $20 million over the next five years for interim repairs on the bridge until a replacement can be funded.

The commission said the Devon Bridge, also known as the Housatonic River Rail Bridge, suffers from “serious deterioration” and requires $850 million to $1 billion to replace.

“Connecticut has initiated work on short-term repairs, but the entire structure needs to be replaced,” the Northeast commission said, noting the state has earmarked $45 million to design a replacement.

Connecticut owns the commuter rail infrastructure within the state, including bridges, and is responsible for maintenance and replacement.

The rail tracks are used by the Metro-North Railroad, for its commuter rail service, and Amtrak, for its regional service.

`New Deal’ for transit

Connecticut applies for $11.1 million TIGER grant for new rail station

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) applied for an $11.1 million federal grant to design a new commuter-rail station in Bridgeport, the agency announced Wednesday.

The application was submitted through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) VII grant program.

The grant would pay for the design of a new station on the east side of Bridgeport, to be known as Barnum Station. Funding would be matched with $7.4 million previously authorized CTDOT bond funds, in addition to funds appropriated to transportation purposes in the biennium budget.
Including environmental review, design and construction, the Barnum Station project would cost about $146.1 million, CTDOT officials said. The station will feature two center island platforms, which are aimed at providing the flexibility to serve both local and express MTA Metro-North Railroad and Amtrak trains.

The Bridgeport Barnum Station Feasibility Study aims to discover whether it is possible to build a train station on Bridgeport’s East Side and to create a Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) to create economic and housing opportunities.

Based on recent planning and development initiatives undertaken by the City of Bridgeport, as well as input received from area stakeholders, there is a strong desire for a new commuter rail station (“Barnum Station”) to be located along Barnum Avenue in East Bridgeport on the site of the former Remington factory. The new P. T. Barnum Station would improve transit and serve as a catalyst for redevelopment in the East Side, East End, and adjacent neighborhoods.

In order to respond to this challenge, the City of Bridgeport, in conjunction with the Greater Bridgeport Regional Council (GBRC) became a partner in the New York-Connecticut Sustainable Communities Consortium with a goal of developing livable communities with mixed-income housing and employment at key transit nodes.

The purpose of the Bridgeport Barnum Station Feasibility Study is to determine whether the construction and operation of a second train station is physically and operationally possible and compatible with the existing Metro-North Railroad (MNR) and Amtrak service and assess the redevelopment opportunities on adjacent parcels.

Results of the analysis indicate it is feasible to construct and operate a new Barnum Station on the site of the former Remington factory. Further, the Study shows that the station has the potential to be a catalyst for redevelopment and revitalization in East Bridgeport, including creating jobs and providing additional housing options close to transit.