March 10, 2017
"Getting There" - Finally, Some Good News on Transportation
Does reading this column depress you? That’s what I’ve heard from a few faithful readers.
But in opining on transportation issues my goal is not to bum you out but to get you thinking. So this week, just to cheer us all up a bit, I’m only going to comment on good news. (Trust me, it’s taken awhile to accumulate these cheerier dispatches, but here goes.)
FAST(ER) TIMES AT THE DMV: A friend of mine who runs a limousine company reports he recently went to the DMV fully expecting to waste a day on paperwork but got out of there in record time. Given the horror stories last summer of long lines and never-ending computer problems, that is good news.
FOOD TRUCKS AT THE STATION: When the Fairfield Metro station was built on the Metro-North line it was supposed to be part of a P3 (public-private-partnership) complete with offices, a hotel and full passenger amenities. But the private company lost its financing, leaving CDOT to build the station which ended up with no waiting room or bathrooms, not even porta-potties. As consolation the CDOT is now looking to bring food trucks into the parking lot to serve commuters. Care for an empanada with your morning coffee?
WALL STREET NORWALK: As “the train guy” I thought I knew everything about the New Haven Railroad. But until a reader in Norwalk told me, I never knew there used to be a train station in the old downtown at Wall Street. Efforts are underway to rejuvenate that station, situated as it is next to 2000 new housing units, the bus station and the under-utilized Yankee Doodle garage. The project won’t be an easy sell as CDOT says it’s not interested because the Wall Street station is only a mile from the South Norwalk station. Funny… they didn’t offer that as an excuse when Gov Malloy promised Bridgeport a new $300 million Barnum train station just a mile from its downtown station.
DONALD TRUMP LIKES TRAINS: Recently our new President met with a group of airline CEO’s, regaling them with promises to rehab old airports and streamline air traffic control. But he also used the occasion to lament the lack of high speed trains in America. “You go to China, you go to Japan, they have fast trains all over the place,” Trump said. It remains to be seen if Trump will keep his campaign pledge to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure or how much of it will go to rail vs roads, but it seems our new President is pro-trains.
HIGH SPEED TRAINS IN CT: Much has been written about the Federal Railroad Administration’s plans to build a high-speed rail line along the Connecticut coast. But fuzzy drawings of potential routes along (or atop) I-95 have given local mayors and selectmen a lot of concern. Last week I was invited to attend an FRA briefing in Darien where many of those fears were lessened. The FRA says it doesn’t know where it will build these tracks. And it may all be moot, given opposition by our Governor, the Commissioner of CDOT and most of our Congressional delegation to the plan which would require state approval and funding to move forward.
So, there you go. Good news, or at least hopeful signs of improvement on the transportation front. What do you see in your daily commute? Any rays of sunshine?
Send your comments by e-mail or post on social media and let’s keep the conversation going with news both good and bad. Just follow the hashtag #GettingThereCT
Reprinted with permission of Hearst CT Media