State Sen. Donald DeFronzo, the New Britain Democrat who co-chairs the transportation committee, couldn't make his position any clearer on the proposed $573 million busway between Hartford and New Britain than he did in a Q&A today for the Herald Press.
Here's what he said:
There is currently a debate over the use of rail or bus to meet Central Connecticut’s future transportation needs. While this difference exists, all sides have agreed for years that it is important to reduce traffic congestion on 1-84 eastbound into Hartford and achieve the economic development benefits of mass transit.
I believe rail has the greatest potential for region-wide economic development. Both rail and bus have advantages and disadvantages, but once the 9.6-mile busway is built at the astronomical cost of $600 million, New Britain will be permanently isolated from the New Haven-Springfield rail line. New Britain will be the only major city in Central Connecticut not on the rail line. New Britain has made its share of transportation policy mistakes (Route 72 through the city); it cannot afford to make one now that will doom the city to economic isolation for decades.
A rail system linking Waterbury, Bristol and New Britain to Hartford will allow for a direct commute from Central Connecticut to New York City and it will also allow for the joining of the New Haven-Springfield line in New Britain before moving on to Hartford. The potential economic development of that system will far out perform the limited and questionable busway concept.
For what it's worth, the last time I asked Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy about the busway, he told me he'd "listen to Senator DeFronzo."
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