Frequently Asked Questions
Who owns the Noroton Hts. railroad station?
most of the stations on the
Who owns the parking at the station?
parking lots are also owned by CDOT and are leased to the Town of
Why are non-residents of
the lot is owned by the state,
How many permits are sold?
are 439 spaces in the annual permit lot, but 777 permits are sold, about a 76%
over-sell. Because permits are
relatively inexpensive ($235 at Noroton Hts vs $600 per year in
Are there other ways to expand parking?
Yes. There are 100 daily voucher parking spaces
next to Post 53 on the south side of the tracks across from The Depot (
Where does the money from parking permits go?
Under the Town’s contract with CDOT, 20% of the revenues go directly to CDOT. Where the balance of the money (approx. $260,000 per year for Noroton Hts. alone) ends up is something of a mystery because, until now, the Town has never kept station revenue and expenses as a line item in its budget.
In November 2002, at the time of the last rate hike for daily parking, the Commuter Council made a formal request of then First Selectman Bob Harrell for an accounting of parking revenue and expenses. Eight months later he delivered his best guesstimate showing that much of the money went to pay for salaries of workers at Town Hall.
Why is the station in such bad shape?
According to the Town’s contract with CDOT, parking revenue is first to be spent on the maintenance and repair of the station and parking lots. Only after those expenses can the Town use parking money for “General Fund” purposes. In recent years the Town has done just the opposite, pouring parking money into the General Fund and spending little or nothing on station upkeep, with no accounting of those expenses.
Why is security so poor in the parking lot and there are so many break-ins?
Though patrolled by Darien Police and Darien Public Works staffers, the lot is quiet most of the day making it an attractive target for thieves. Despite many requests for the installation of security cameras, Town officials have refused such suggestions.
Why doesn’t CDOT enforce its contract and require the Town to fix things?
CDOT is now doing this. In November 2002 they hired a consultant, Urbitran Assoc., to look at all of the rail stations and examine their condition. Noroton Hts was ranked “worst” on the line by commuters. The consultants’ engineers identified $538,000 in necessary repairs. To view the 62-page report, see http://www.ctrailgovernance.com/reports/Noroton%20Heights.pdf
In January 2004, CDOT appeared before the Darien Board of Selectman and reminded the Town of its contractual obligation to fix the station, citing the Urbitran study which had been given last year to then-First Selectman Harrell. The Town must now find the money to complete the repairs.
Does CDOT want to “take over” the station?
already owns the station. It is offering
to assume operational control of the station as it has done with the railroad
What does CDOT want in return for “taking over” the Noroton Hts. station?
is interested in offering expanded parking at stations along the
What kind of parking structure does CDOT have in mind?
Nobody knows for sure because CDOT has presented no designs. They have only spoken about adding 450 additional spaces to the existing 439 in the permit lot, effectively doubling the capacity of the lot. This would probably mean adding one more level of parking by digging into the side of the hill.
Why Noroton Hts. station for this parking structure?
Because of its location and topography. The permit lot is sandwiched between the railroad tracks and I-95 on a sloping hill. The idea is that, by building into the side of the hill, additional parking can be added without necessarily adding to the height of the lot. Also, there are no residential houses facing the lot, reducing its impact on the neighborhood.
In fact, the idea of
expended parking at Noroton Hts. is considered in
What is the South West Regional Planning Agency’s role in all this?
SWRPA is conducting its own
study of parking at the five railroad stations in
Who would pay for the construction and how long would it take?
The lot would be built with $3 to $6 million in state and federal funds. Construction would probably take many months, following a design process of several years. Again, no design has been presented, but the Town’s interest is being evaluated. CDOT has said it will not force a parking garage on a Town that does not want it.
Where would parking permits holders go during construction?
remains to be seen, but as we saw during the reconstruction of the
Wouldn’t more parking mean more traffic?
Yes, and CDOT has offered to spend additional money to mitigate this impact. Another possibility would be to have access to and from the lot also be available directly from I-95.
Wouldn’t more commuters using the station just mean further crowding on the trains?
No, because CDOT and Metro-North have had a long policy of putting the train service where the parking is. More parking at Noroton Hts would actually mean more train service. If the parking is not built at Noroton Hts., we might actually lose train service to the Towns that do add parking.
Why not order more trains to deal with the crowding?
idea! But because it would cost $2.5 -
$3 Billion to replace our aging fleet of cars, there is no political will in
So, what benefit would there be in seeing this parking lot get built?
1) Expanded train service to Noroton Hts…. more trains, more often.
2) Better train service would mean higher real estate values.
3) CDOT would rebuild, and in fact expand, the station at no cost to the Town.
4) CDOT would waive the Town’s $538,000 expense for deferred maintenance.
5) A parking lot could be designed with additional amenities, ie stores.
6) The lot would have security designed into it with TV monitors and security personnel.
7) More parking would mean more commuters and less traffic on I-95 for those who must drive.
What’s the CT Metro-North Rail Commuter Council’s involvement in this issue?
by the legislature as a watchdog group to promote the interest of commuters,
the Council is comprised of riders, just like you. Vice Chmn. Jim Cameron resides in
For full results of the Council and Town’s poll of Noroton Hts commuters, see: http://www.ci.darien.ct.us/news/nhrrsurveyresults.htm