Governor Dannel P. Malloy and the U.S. Department of Transportation today announced the release of $120.9 million in FRA funding to Connecticut to advance the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield (NHHS) Rail Program. The federal funding will be matched by $141.9 million in state funding. Enhanced intercity rail service is expected to start in 2016. This is the third of three FRA grants for the NHHS program, bringing the total federal funding to $190.9 million, which, combined with state funding of $174.7 million, makes a total investment of $365.6 million in this corridor. This phase of the project is expected to create or sustain about 9,000 jobs. The total project will create or sustain about 13,000 jobs.
"Investing in new mass transportation opportunities will undoubtedly improve congestion on our roadways, create new economic development opportunities and improve our resident's overall quality of life. But perhaps most importantly, it will create jobs -- roughly 13,000 of them for this project alone," said Governor Malloy. "Achieving this milestone means we can complete the design and construction of new track, signal and communication systems, bridge and station infrastructure improvements between New Haven and Hartford and provide an economic boon for the region."
The Governor also noted that the state's considerable funding contribution underscores his commitment to high-speed rail in the corridor and the entire Northeast Corridor (NEC) between Boston and Washington, DC.
"Once completed, there will be 17 round trip trains traveling between New Haven and Springfield, Massachusetts each day," said Deputy U.S. Transportation Secretary John Porcari. "The improvements in Connecticut will simplify routes for travelers throughout the Northeast Corridor, while building on President Obama's vision of making rail attractive and competitive in the region."
Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner James P. Redeker said that the NHHS Rail Program "will increase the safety, frequency and speed of intercity service along the 62-mile corridor and enhance regional rail connections," noting that the number of trains will increase from the current 12 per day today to 34 by 2016. Trains will reach speeds of up to 110 mph and travel times will be reduced significantly, making rail travel far more attractive and competitive in the corridor.
The Commissioner said that the first phase of construction -- the installation of underground communication cable -- will begin later this month. By the end of 2016, with the funds that are now in place, the entire corridor between Hartford and New Haven will be double-tracked. Redeker also said that a key component of the investments is installation of state-of-the-art grade crossing protection to ensure safety along the entire corridor. Station improvements will include the addition of high-level platforms at some existing stations and new stations in Meriden and Wallingford
The Commissioner also noted that this program is a result of a strong partnership with AMTRAK, freight railroads and members of the New England Compact, representing all New England states, New York and Quebec. The NHHS rail corridor is a critical link in the 2030 vision for an expanded rail transportation network serving the Northeast which was developed and endorsed by the Compact. This is part of an overall network connecting all of New England, New York and as far north as Montreal to the Northeast Corridor.
"This is a smart investment for Connecticut that will help bring our infrastructure into the 21st century," said Congressman John B. Larson. "This particular stretch of rail is vital to New England and will provide fast, frequent, and reliable passenger rail service for Connecticut travelers. I am very grateful to all the parties involved in making this a reality."
"Our area needs high-speed rail. New England is the most heavily trafficked commuter region in the US and traffic has increased two to three times faster than the population since 1990," said Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro. "When completed, this high speed rail line is expected to create thousands of jobs, significantly reduce the number of vehicles on the road and better connect our communities. So I will continue to push for high-speed rail, and for the other vital infrastructure investments that restore long-term prosperity, including an infrastructure bank to help leverage private capital towards public investment."
"Improving Connecticut's public transportation infrastructure is vital to keeping and creating jobs in Connecticut," Senator Joe Lieberman said. "These improvements along the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield line will increase reliability and reduce trip times on Connecticut's rail system. The total federal investment of $190 million was truly a group effort, led by our current congressional delegation and former Senator Chris Dodd, and I am pleased that Governor Malloy is moving full-steam ahead on this important project. I took the train to Hartford often as a state Senator from New Haven, and look forward to increased inter-city service in the future."
"This rail line will create jobs, reduce traffic, transform transit, and fuel economic resurgence," Senator Richard Blumenthal said. "A funding boost of this magnitude sends a serious message: we're committed for the long haul to a rail system worthy of a cutting edge economy. I will continue to fight for federal resources enabling and empowering expansion of rail transit in Connecticut."
"This passenger rail investment program will enhance a major regional transportation asset and will provide significant benefits to the residents of Connecticut and much of New England. Governor Malloy, Commissioner Redeker, many other state leaders and the FRA deserve praise for their vision and continued commitment to improve this rail corridor," said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman.
Today's announcement follows the receipt of a signed Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) from the FRA for the Environmental Assessment/Environmental Impact Evaluation (EA/EIE) on August 15, 2012. FRA approval of the EA/EIE was a precondition to obligation of the federal funding.
Additional information on the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Rail Program is available at www.nhhsrail.com.