Commentary on transportation in Connecticut and the Northeast by JIM CAMERON, for 19 years a member of the CT Rail Commuter Council.
Jim is also the founder of a new advocacy effort: www.CommuterActionGroup.org
Disclaimer: his comments are only his own. All contents of this blog are (c) Cameron Communications Inc
The nearly decade-long
struggle to replace the crumbling Stamford railroad station parking garage has
taken another bizarre turn: the CDOT now
wants to spend $1.5 million and take six months to repair the garage before
they tear it down.
How did we get into this
mess? Let’s examine the time-line:
Garage construction - 1983
begins on the Stamford Transportation Center, featuring a new train station and
parking garage. But construction is halted when cracks
are found in beams. Repairs are made and work continues.
concrete, exposed and rusting rebar convince engineers the garage is near the
end of its life. CDOT decides it will be cheaper to demolish
the old 727-space parking garage than to repair it… $35 million.
2008: A hoped-for
public-private partnership (PPP) to replace the old garage in its current
location and add private office space falls through.
2012: The CDOT tries a
PPP again, issuing an
RFP (Request for Proposals) for replacement
parking within a quarter mile
of the station. Developers are promised
confidentiality. There are no public
hearings on any concepts, leaving
commuters in the dust. After protests, Governor Malloy appoints a panel to
oversee the CDOT process of selecting a developer. The group meets secretly, never seeking
public input nor ever issuing a report on its work.
1, 2013: Developer
John McClutchy and family donate
$30,000 to the CT State Central Democratic Committee. By February 2015, the McClutchy’s have
donated $165,000 to that federal account, bypassing state laws prohibiting
contractor contributions to candidates.
11 2013: The
its choice of developers for the Stamford Garage, JHM Group of Companies
(headed by John McClutchy), which proposes a 600,000 sq ft office / hotel
complex on the site of the old garage while parking is moved a quarter mile
away. Negotiations on a final deal get
chunks of concrete fall from the ceiling of the Stamford Garage prompting CDOT
to close the facility for safety inspection, displacing 700+ daily parkers.
Spawling concrete, rusted rebar
second anniversary of CDOT’s selection of JHM as developer of the garage
passes, but there is still
no signed contract. The old garage
remains closed into a third month with no word on repairs.
Those facts speak for
themselves. My only opinion: if CDOT can so mismanage a small project like
this, what’s going to happen when Governor Malloy gives them $100
billion to spend on his 30-year transportation plan?