Enfield Rail Station Planned to Serve Commuters,
Spur Economic Growth Across Region
ENFIELD — Commuters working in Hanford or Springfield could someday have an alternative to the snarl of highway rush hour traffic.
If current plans are approved by the state legislature, the Thompsonville section of Enfield would join North Haven and Newington in building train stations for a proposed commuter railroad connecting New Haven, Hartford, and Springfield.
According to Enfield Town Manager Scott Shanley, two public hearings were recently held to gather input on the plan, which would cost taxpayers a one-time charge of $263 million for tracks, trains, and stations covering 60 miles of terrain. A report produced this fall by planning and consulting firm Wilbur Smith Associates of New Haven proposed an additional annual operating cost of about 9 million.
"This rail service would address a lot of the problems people complain about in Connecticut." Shanley explained. “We need to do something dramatic for the state’s economic strength: our commuter labor force. Your ability to get a job without moving would expand considerably.”
He continued, ‘This would also encourage economic development. It would encourage ‘infill’ rather than spreading out to open space. It’s an incentive [for developers] not to sprawl.” Regarding the project’s price tag he added, “It would cost about $240 million to add a highway lane from Springfield to New Haven This will spur economic development, that's where the payback is.”
The Wilbur Smith study stated that, with connections to Metro North, Shore Line East, and Amtrak, regional travelers could also use the proposed rail line, including a connection to Bradley International Airport. Service would operate in both directions, Monday through Friday, on a 30-minute “peak’ hour” schedule. No adjustments would be made in Amtrak schedules, but fares would be adjusted for commuter use.
"The Windsor Locks station would provide adequate facilities to accommodate a waiting area and transfers between the train and the shuttle bus to Bradley Airport," the study detailed Projected “ridership” would be 2,000 new daily trips.
"The next step is to present this the transportation strategy board again," said Shanley. A total of 18 miles of additional track would be needed, with a stretch of about 3-5 miles of that located in the’ section of Enfield. A new station is described a~ a raised platform with parking. Thompsonville is one of many areas in need of revitalization that the commuter rail plan is intended to improve. Public comment on the recommendation action ends Dec. 15.
By Mike Briotta, Staff Writer, from Reminder Community News December 7, 2004 Enfield Edition. www.remindernet.com