Gov. Jodi Rell is ready to engineer the creation of a commuter rail line serving Bristol and New Britain if its price tag doesn’t run the train off the tracks.
“I’m all for more use of the rails,” Rell said during a stop to read to children at Edgewood School Thursday.
The governor told The Bristol Press that a study of the proposed commuter line between Waterbury and Hartford is needed to determine if it’s feasible.
But, she said, she likes the concept.
“Any time we can get people to get out of cars” and onto trains instead, the better, the governor said.
With a push from Central Connecticut lawmakers, it’s increasingly likely the General Assembly will back funding for a study of the proposal, the first step toward making it a reality.
Bristol Mayor Art Ward said he is “encouraged by the governor’s remarks” about the possibility of opening up the 24.5-mile freight line to commuter rail.
Ward said that after the last gasoline price surge, people realized they can’t rely solely on automobiles in the future. Trains, which fell by the wayside after World War II, offer a solid alternative, he said.
“We’re recognizing the need to address obsolete transportation,” Ward said.
The mayor said that state Sen. Donald DeFronzo, a New Britain Democrat, is seeking the feasibility study money for the Department of Transportation, a move that Rell’s support may make more likely.
State Rep. Frank Nicastro, a Bristol Democrat, has said that creating the commuter line might cost $52 million or more, but it would be a bargain compared to the proposed busway between New Britain and Hartford that’s probably going to cost at least 10 times as much.
The Pan-Am Railways line doesn’t get much use these days.There are four freight trains a day between Plainville and Berlin and one that runs between Bristol and Waterbury.Nicastro said that the tentative plan calls for two new rail stations in Bristol, though the locations are not chosen. One would almost certainly be downtown.
Ward said that Bristol is lucky to have a number of potential spots for stations.
“It’s not going to take a lot of adjustment locally,” Ward said.
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