Rusty tracks run through the trees, bent and broken in places, and a few poles that once held glass insulators for utility lines still poke through to the sky.
Scattered along the ground are mounds of busted railroad ties, smashed bottles, odd metal contraptions, headless plastic dolls and heaps of unidentifiable garbage.
It’s been a long time since a railroad engine roared through – 1954 to be exact – but the old right of way between downtown New Britain and Newington junction is mostly intact, a forgotten bit of history that’s now at the center of controversy.
That 4.4-mile stretch would make up nearly half of the proposed busway route between the Hardware City and Hartford’s Union Station, a section that can be used either for buses or trains but not both.
For many critics of the $573 million busway plan, gobbling up the rail right of way would make it nearly impossible to create a reasonable rail commute into Hartford from New Britain and points to the west, including Bristol.
The only serious alternative route would take the trains from downtown New Britain to the southeast into the junction in Berlin, where they could proceed north again over the major line that runs from New Haven north to Massachusetts and beyond. That’s miles out of the way.
But the train option hasn’t been fully studied, let alone approved, while the busway project is ready to roll.
This is just one of many issues that Gov. Dannel Malloy will have to weigh Monday when teams of busway backers and bashers make a pitch behind closed-doors in Hartford for about 90 minutes each.
Malloy said that after hearing from both sides, he’ll decide whether to press on with busway or hit the brakes on the 9.4-mile project. Click here for the full story.
And here's a little video that shows why it's a really good thing I never went into TV: