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A new high-speed rail plan was unveiled by Gov. Ned Lamont and Connecticut Transportation Commissioner Joseph Giulietti today, promising to save commuters up to 10 minutes in their commutes by 2022 and up to 25 minutes by 2035.
It also will generate an estimated 45,000 direct construction jobs over 15 years, according to Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, who joined the governor, Giulietti, and a number of other government officials at the Stratford train station to make the announcement.
TIME FOR CT is a proposed $8 billion to 10 billion comprehensive investment program that, with funding, can provide additional capacity and improve needs, frequency, and reliability throughout Connecticut. The benefits include:
Giulietti said that Amtrak, Metro North, state and federal legislators are working together to make real a plan that is based on the pillars of service, infrastructure, and fleet investment. Improvements will include shoring up movable bridges like the Walk Bridge in Norwalk, straightening rails, and improving signal systems as well as purchasing modern rail cars.
“This is one piece of an entire plan for the Northeast Corridor,” Giulietti said, while Lamont noted that TIME FOR CT’s implementation will benefit the entire country, as every state’s rail system is interconnected.
Catherine Rinaldi, president of Metro North, said that its ridership began increasing in the spring; noting that peak service on several lines was increased earlier today, she said another significant increase is scheduled for August.
Rinaldi also touted the climate-related benefits of getting more people to travel by rail than by car, easing highway congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.
Caroline Decker, vice president, Northeast Corridor Service Line for Amtrak, said: “No pun intended, we are on the right track.”
State Sen. Will Haskell (D-Westport), noting that he keeps an MTA timetable from 1970 in his office that shows commuting time is “slower today by every measure,” said both the state and federal government have come to understand “how critically important rail service is.”
Introduced by Bysiewicz as the “fairy godfather” and “fairy godmother” of federal funding, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D) and U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-3rd District) – the latter is chairperson of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee – vowed to put pressure on their peers to secure the federal funding necessary to make the plan a reality.
“We need a massive, likely bi-partisan plan,” Blumenthal said. “And we need the two Joes – Biden and (U.S. Sen.) Manchin (D-West Virginia) — to get behind it.”
DeLauro noted that her committee has passed the Surface Transportation Investment Act, but that it will need further improvements before it goes to the House floor for a vote. Nevertheless, she said that the recently passed CARES and ARP acts include billions for transportation, and appeared confident that further funding for transportation was on the way.
“If the Europeans can do it in high-speed rail, we can certainly do it in this country,” she declared.
“Let’s not waste this opportunity,” Lamont said, repeating that the program will reduce traffic and emissions. “What a difference that means,” he said.
“We’re not a pass-through state” anymore, Lamont added, saying that Connecticut’s economy now stands at about 98% of what it was before the pandemic, compared to about 93% for the rest of the country.
“This is real,” he said. “This is happening, and you’re going to see a difference within a year.”
Asked about a potential impact on ticket prices, Giulietti said that “right now, we have not looked into that.”
This article first appeared on westfaironline.com
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