Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Advocates Appeal to Federal Railroad Administration for High Speed in New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Corridor

August 11, 2009

Joseph C. Szabo
Federal Railroad Administration
United States Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

RE: Support for the New Haven-Springfield Commuter Rail Line

Dear Administrator Szabo:

Several weeks ago, with the strong support of Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell, the State of Connecticut submitted a pre-application for High Speed Rail stimulus funds to be used for implementation of the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield (NHHS) rail project. The NHHS project includes Massachusetts as a key partner, and is a critically important component of the joint Vision for the New England High-Speed and Intercity Rail Network recently released by the New England state transportation agencies with the bi-partisan support of New England’s governors.

Extensive support for the NHHS project exists not only at the state level in Connecticut and Massachusetts, but also at the federal level. The list of public supporters is long and, at the federal level, currently includes Senators Edward Kennedy and John Kerry, and Representatives Jim McGovern, Richard Neal, Niki Tsongas and John Olver of Massachusetts; as well as Senator Christopher Dodd and Representatives Chris Murphy, Rosa DeLauro and John Larson of Connecticut.

We write to add the advocacy community’s backing to the NHHS project’s growing list of supporters.

As advocacy groups representing varying interests, we do not always agree on all issues. However, we do agree that federal support for the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail corridor is integral to move the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions into the 21st century.

This rail corridor is an ideal candidate for federal High Speed Rail stimulus funding and should be viewed as a project of regional significance by the Federal Rail Administration (FRA). While the project is primarily based in Connecticut, it also holds potential benefits for the greater New England region. For example, according to the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission 2006 Briefing Report: The Economic Impact of the Proposed New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Commuter Rail Line and the ConnDOT Implementation Plan, it is expected that the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield line will:

• Reduce the number of vehicles on roads by approximately 6,000 cars each day
• Increase the connectivity of rail and bus systems at 12 train stations, including the proposed Hartford-New Britain Busway
• Foster better linkages between Bradley International Airport and the region
• Generate close to 1,000 jobs
• Generate $459 million in new economic development and $38 million a year in new tax revenues

These are just a few of the many benefits that the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail project will bring to New England. In addition, improvements to the rail corridor will reduce travel times as well as increase reliability on the existing Vermonter route which links Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Canada. Investment will also lay the foundation to connect several Connecticut and Massachusetts cities with the economic spine of New England and take the first step towards long term travel-time savings between New York and Boston.

Finally, the project fits seamlessly into FRA’s strategic plan for High Speed Rail. For example, implementation will create efficient and multi-modal transportation options; promote smarter, more livable communities with greater affordable housing opportunities centered around transit service; bolster economic development and economic competitiveness; and protect our environment by reducing the number of both vehicle miles traveled and the number of idling vehicles along the already gridlocked I-91 corridor; all preferred outcomes found within the strategic plan.

Once again we urge you to support the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail corridor application and to recommend stimulus dollars towards its implementation.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions.


Kate Slevin Tom Irwin
Executive Director Senior Attorney
Tri-State Transportation Campaign Conservation Law Foundation

David Kooris Curt Johnson
Vice President Director of Programs, Senior Attorney
Regional Plan Association-Connecticut Connecticut Fund for the Environment
Herbert Singleton John Pagini
President Professional Development Officer
Pioneer Valley Advocates for Commuter Rail Connecticut Chapter-APA
Jill Kelly and Carol Leightins Oz Griebel
Co-Coordinators President and CEO
Connecticut Citizens Transportation Lobby MetroHartford Alliance

Christopher Phelps Peter Griffin
Program Director President
Environment Connecticut NH Railroad Revitalization Association

Toni Gold Lori Brown
President Executive Director
Urban Edge Associates CT League of Conservation Voters Education Fund

Mark Richardson Diane Randall
President Executive Director
NH Businesses for Transportation Partnership for Strong Communities
and Infrastructure

Phineas Baxandall Kenneth Niemcyzk
Federal Tax and Budget Policy Analyst City Planner
ConnPIRG City of Lebanon, NH

Elizabeth Weyant Joe McGee
Staff Attorney Vice President, Public Policy and Programs
MassPIRG Business Council of Fairfield County

Heidi Green
1000 Friends of Connecticut

Cc. Senator Edward Kennedy, Massachusetts
Senator John Kerry, Massachusetts
Senator Christopher Dodd, Connecticut
Representative Jim McGovern, Massachusetts
Representative Richard Neal, Massachusetts
Representative Niki Tsongas, Massachusetts
Representative John Olver, Massachusetts
Representative Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut
Representative John Larson, Connecticut
Representative Chris Murphy, Connecticut
Governor Deval Patrick, Massachusetts
Governor M. Jodi Rell, Connecticut
Joseph Marie, ConnDOT Commissioner
Karen Rae, FRA Deputy Administrator

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