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February 01, 2007

The TSB's Vision of Our Transportation Future

Who is looking out for our state’s transportation future? The TSB, that’s who. Created by the legislature almost six years ago, the Transportation Strategy Board has just issued its updated vision of where we’re going, and it holds a number of exciting possibilities.

RAILROAD STATIONS & PARKING: The TSB calls for additional parking at all stations with uniform policies and pricing. They also want to expedite the replacement of the Stamford garage now set for demolition. New stations should be built in West Haven and, possibly, Orange. The new stations should be sites for transit-oriented development (TOD) (i.e. shopping and housing). Platforms at all stations should be lengthened to accommodate ten car trains. Intermodal connections between trains and residential / business areas should be enhanced.

NEW SERVICE: The TSB endorses plans for new commuter rail service between New Haven and Springfield, the integration of Metro-North and Shore Line East and future service to Penn Station.

BRANCH LINES: The Danbury branch signalization should (finally) move forward and “collector” stations should be expanded where the branch lines cross the Merritt Parkway to encourage commuters to drive, then take the train.

RAIL FREIGHT: At long last the TSB has recommended use of rail freight throughout the state as an alternative to truck transport. Much of this plan will depend on plans for a cross-harbor rail tunnel in New York harbor.

BUS TRANSIT: Fund an expanded bus network using clean (i.e. non-diesel) buses. Expeditiously implement the planned New Britain to Hartford busway.

MANAGING HIGHWAY CONGESTION: Perhaps the least popular and most controversial of its suggestions, the TSB endorses a study of EZ Pass-style tolls on major highways as a means of mitigating congestion and raising funds to support mass transit. Further, the TSB recommends development of an electronic system to inform drivers of congestion, including a statewide 511 phone system.

HIGHWAYS: Recognizing that we cannot build our way out of our current traffic problems, the TSB does not endorse construction of more interstate highways except areas of I-95 between Branford and North Stonington and I-84 between Danbury and Waterbury. The board also calls for greater north-south connections between our east-west oriented major highways.

AIRPORTS: Expand Bradley for greater passenger and freight service. Consider enhancements to New Haven’s Tweed Airport to improve service.

MARITIME: Expand feeder barge service between New York and Bridgeport to include New Haven which could be expanded as a commercial deep-water port with a rail link. Dredge New Haven and Bridgeport harbors.

Though this update to the TSB’s 2005 plans is long on vision, it is short on specifics, by design. Unlike the previous recommendations by the TSB, this year’s report leaves to the CDOT and its dynamic new Commissioner, Ralph Carpenter, the implementation of its vision, and correctly so.

Critics who have attacked this TSB report do so for several reasons. The pro-highway lobby of construction interests is angry because the TSB does not call for highway expansion which would fill its coffers. And weak-willed politicians are unhappy that more specific projects are not cited, leaving them to take the political heat for CDOT-proposed projects. So be it.

I, for one, am pleased with the TSB’s report as I know it to be the results of over a year of thoughtful review. Now it’s up to our lawmakers to fund this vision of our transportation future. None of this will be cheap, but remember that it was penny-pinching neglect that got us into our current mess.

JIM CAMERON is Chairman of the CT Metro-North / Shore Line East Rail Commuter Council, a member of the Coastal Corridor TIA and the Darien RTM. The opinions expressed are his own and not necessarily those of the groups on which he serves. You can reach him at or

1 comment:

gary said...

"Who is looking out for our state’s transportation future? The TSB, that’s who."

But what if the future of transportation requires more resources than any one city, or even state can afford? Here's where I think we need to go...