The federal government has released $120.9 million for the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Rail program, a project that when combined with other state and federal funds will ultimately represent a $365.6 million project anticipated to bring and sustain 13,000 jobs in Connecticut.
“This is a win-win-win for Connecticut,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told dozens of dignitaries and politicians who attended an afternoon press conference at the Meriden rail station where he and others announced the funding.
The project will significantly improve rail service between Connecticut’s shoreline and Springfield, and will include improvements to several stations along the way, including ones in Berlin, Meriden and Wallingford, officials announced.
“Investing in new mass transportation opportunities will undoubtedly improve congestion on our roadways, create new economic development opportunities and improve our residents’ overall quality of life,” Malloy said.
The long-anticipated project will include the construction of new railroad stations in West Hartford, Newington, North Haven and Enfield and is expected to boost ridership through Connecticut.
It is part of an overall $647 million improvement of the rail line between New Haven and Springfield and will ultimately be part of a larger, even more costly, program to improve rail service through the heavily traveled Northeast corridor, officials said.
The first phase of the project will be along the Meriden to Newington section of the rail line.
Several members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation attended the announcement Monday afternoon, including Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Rep. Joseph Courtney, D-Second District, and U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Third District.
Also attending were John D. Porcari, under secretary of the federal Department of Transportation and James P. Redeker, commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Transportation.
“Once completed, there will be 17 round trip trains traveling between New Haven and Springfield each day,” Porcari said. “The improvements in Connecticut will simplify routes for travelers throughout the Northeast Corridor, while building on President Obama’s vision of making rail attractive and competitive in the region.”
Redeker said that the NHHS Rail Program “will increase the safety, frequency and speed of inter-city service along the 62-mile corridor and enhance regional rail connections.” He also said the number of trains will increase from the current 12 per day today to 34 by 2016. Trains will reach speeds of up to 110 mph and travel times will be reduced significantly, making rail travel far more attractive and competitive in the corridor.
He said that the first phase of construction – the installation of underground communication cable – would begin later this month. By the end of 2016, with the funds that are now in place, the entire corridor between Hartford and New Haven will be double-tracked.
Speakers at the event lauded each other, and Malloy, for their efforts to get the grant money approved.
“It represents the culmination of years of hard work,” Malloy said.
Monday’s ceremony in Meriden was to mark the second release of Federal Railroad Administration funds in the amount of $121 million. This is the second such grant from the FRA, which the state will match with $142 million.