A new rail commuter line is among the items that Bristol leaders agreed to pursue Thursday.
“I’d love it. I really would,” Mayor Art Ward said.
Ward met in his office with the city’s legislative delegation to work out a common agenda for the upcoming legislative session, with everyone agreeing to try to grab more money for Bristol’s wish list.
“It was good to see the delegation come together” with Mayor Art Ward to work out a common agenda to boost Bristol and Forestville’s needs, said state Rep. Frank Nicastro, a Democrat whose 79th District includes the southern third of the city.
Though most of the issues they discussed have been batted around for years, the prospect of a commuter rail line reaching the city is something that hasn’t received much attention for decades.
“I’d like to see that brought to light,” Nicastro said. He said it would make Bristol more accessible.
Ward said he would like to a rail line for commuters to use to go to Hartford or Waterbury, or both.
With the high price of gasoline and new downtown development looming, the timing may be right, Ward said. If energy prices keep rising, he said, “there might not be a choice. It would provide for conservation.”
Nicastro said that it would be up to state transportation experts to put the issue on the front burner, but a push from Bristol might help.
Ward said, “I would think it would be worthy of looking into.”
He said that he and his wife took a train from Berlin to Quantico, Va. not long ago. The ride was great, Ward said.
Ward said there hasn’t been a passenger train serving Bristol in “a long, long time,” but perhaps it can come back.
Another issue that Nicastro and Ward each said deserves attention is the Riverside Avenue gateway to downtown.
The mayor said that maybe the state can apply pressure on Yankee Gas to spruce up its work yard at the eastern approach to Memorial Boulevard, a goal the city has long sought without much success.
Ward said he wants the former Trudon Trucking property on Downs Street to return to its natural state. A former blight target, it has been partially cleaned up but nothing has been done with it for years.
All of the city’s legislators were present for the Thursday session, including Nicastro; state Sen. Tom Colapietro, a Bristol Democrat who represents the 31st District; and state Reps. Bill Hamzy, R-78, Ron Burns, R-77, and Betty Boukus, D-22.
The city’s wish list for the year
*Keep Route 72 extension on track
*Secure funding for downtown revitalization
*Stay on top of possibility of converting courthouse to juvenile courthouse
*Get funding for Riverside Avenue gateway to downtown, including the area at the eastern end of Memorial Boulevard
*Make sure school bonding stays on track
*Maximize education funding
*Seek state support for commuter rail line in Bristol
*Try for state help for anti-flooding efforts
*Get funding for Rockwell Park renovations
*Seek low-interest state loans for businesses interested in the new industrial park
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