damus

SE CT Transportation Infrastructure

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http://www.norwichbulletin.com/apps/pbcs.d.../605250305/1002

NORWICH -- Five or 10 years down the line, downtown Norwich could include a free shuttle system, a light-rail hub or even water taxi ports.

City residents and downtown advocates met Wednesday night to brainstorm creative transportation options to make Norwich more resident- and tourist-friendly.

...

But those leading revitalization efforts downtown want to see Norwich itself as an attraction. Which means adding parking -- either satellite or downtown -- and simple public transportation options.

...

"Too many cities put all their eggs in one basket," Caruso said. "They think that one (form of transportation) is going to work and it never does."

Norwich leaders brought up the ongoing efforts to build an Intermodal Transportation Center on Hollyhock Island, which will accommodate bus service and possibly rail or water transit in the future.

They don't want to "put their eggs in one basket", but are saying nothing about completing route 2. Like it or not, we live in an auto-oriented society and in a region that will be ever more dependend on tourism people will want to come in with their cars. If there is a good transit system (fixed rail), I'm sure a good chunk of the visitors will use that, but you will never see everyone using that. Why not take route 2 through Mohegan Park, digging a shallow tunnel with a deck over it for the proposed Chelsea Gardens? I think that would be perfect. After that, you're only cutting through a small number of housing units in Greenville and the east side.

In Preston, when you look at a map, there is still a ton of open space between Brickyard, Miller, and Branch Hill roads, which are the three north-south roads between Norwich and rt 164. Once Utopia is in, development will be popping up everywhere no matter what they try to do, so they might as well do it right with a mix of highway and rail.

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I sent a few emails out to a few local officials. This was the version I sent the Norwich Bulletin. Any ideas/comments before I start sending more out to the rest of the city/state officials and the NL Day?

I believe that the proposed commuter rail from New London to Worcester is a good start, but the region needs a lot more than that before Utopia comes along. Has anyone looked into providing a sort of "loop" from Norwich down the route 2 corridor (possibly including a completed route 2 expressway with limited exits) to Westerly, back along the I-95 corridor to the Thames River, and then back up?

I have also thought of a great way to handle traffic and growth that will undoubtedly affect Norwich greatly. Has anyone thought of the idea of a streetcar loop from Utopia to downtown to the Mohegan Sun and back? It could be run as a free line and the city could zone the area within a quarter of a mile or so from the corridor according to "New Urbanist" principles. The Congress for New Urbanism http://www.cnu.org/ website is a good place to start for ideas. In Portland, Oregon they have a streetcar system ( http://www.portlandstreetcar.org/), with a "free zone". This area was a dilapidated area of town and now it's booming with young professionals and businesses moving into the area to take advantage of the transist. The workers at the casinos already take mass-transit and if we could get a good number of the tourists and Utopia employees to use the streetcar system I suggested, I think the sprawl-related impacts of such a large development would be greatly lessened.

I was opposed to Utopia for the reason that I feel this will bring in far more development than the local residents thought it would, and that it has the potential to drastically change the region. If you look at Orange County, Florida and Orange County, California they saw significant growth after Disney was built. Today, both areas are examples of what not to do when plannng urban regions. If we had the right infrastructure in place coupled with sound zoning we could see a lot of transit-oriented development in our region. If we are to rely on roads to get around to these attractions, none of the tourists will use the rail, and none of the employees of Foxwoods and North Stonington Studios will either. The time to prepare the area for "smart growth" is now. Lets not make the same mistakes that every city that built itself around automobile dependency did. Sure, we'll need roads, but good transit reduces road usage, pollution, and sprawl.

I think it would behoove the Bulletin to educate the public about how some cities grew the right way, while others relied too much on the automobile and wound up with congestion. The time for drastic action is now. I would have sent something like this in as a letter to the editor, but I sincerely believe that most people do not put much thought into what is on that page of the paper. This is a very serious topic and I am concerned about the future of the region, especially considering the "other" paper recently editorialized that we'll need more roads. I acknowledge that this is an auto-centric culture, but relying solely on roads is a recipe for a quality of life disaster. Please get back to me with any thoughts or comments you might have. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

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It be a good idea if rail ever did take off in Eastern Connecticut to include trains up north to Willimantic on the current New England Central line. You could have stations in S. Franklin, N. Franklin, S. Windham, Downtown Willimantic, upper Main st. Willimantic, and Willington, with a spur going off to Storrs and UConn.

Everything could tie into downtown Norwich with trains to the casinos, Utopia, and New London with connections to New Haven, NYC, and Boston.

If things were done right years ago, Willimantic could have also been a connection point with trains into Hartford on the old lines that are now nature walks.

Edited by uconn99

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I think a Worcester/New London rail link would be a great idea. I can't forsee it, not taking Utopia into account, drawing enough traffic for a huge train like the T or Long Island Railroad uses, but a smaller commuter car, perhaps a budd car or two, would do great. You would get a fair amount of NEw York traffic (remember Worcester has a ton of college kids), and I think there could be enough synergy between the two cities to encourage some commuting.

However, a far as Utopia is concerned, this is putting the cart before the horse. The first things that have to be done are to decided where you want all the hotels and other smaller attractions and tourist businesses that are bound to pop up to go, and how people are going to be arriving in the area. You have to identify what you want to try and link with this tourist area, and what you want to isolate. THEN it becomes time to plan for transportation.

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However, a far as Utopia is concerned, this is putting the cart before the horse. The first things that have to be done are to decided where you want all the hotels and other smaller attractions and tourist businesses that are bound to pop up to go, and how people are going to be arriving in the area. You have to identify what you want to try and link with this tourist area, and what you want to isolate. THEN it becomes time to plan for transportation.

Well... Utopia is already planning on announcing some "very big" development for downtown this week. There are 2 areas already targeted for redevelopment on rt 32: the Uncas on Thames hospital campus (70 acres) and the blighted Shipping Street corridor (not sure how big, but more than the hospital). I'm pretty sure Norwich's city council wouldn't mind the businesses popping up in and between downtown and the Sun/Utopia areas. They seem to have been trying to get that to happen for years....

If there's a "free" streetcar line it should be feasible for the state to help us out for construction, considering the casinos give them over $30 million per month and the state does have a budget surplus. This Utopia thing looks like it'll have the same impact on the area that Disney did on Orlando and I really think we should put this stuff in ASAP and try to minimize the sprawl that usually comes with this stuff.

I just did a yahoo maps search ... and it's 4.3 miles from the gas station at the sun, to the turnaround, and all the way to church st in downtown norwich. That doesn't seem like too far a distance, and I'm assuming rt 12 to Utopia will be around the same. Gentile has hinted that he wants some sort of monrail, I'd like to see what he thinks (though he is fake and could lie to me and say it's a good idea when it isn't).

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It be a good idea if rail ever did take off in Eastern Connecticut to include trains up north to Willimantic on the current New England Central line. You could have stations in S. Franklin, N. Franklin, S. Windham, Downtown Willimantic, upper Main st. Willimantic, and Willington, with a spur going off to Storrs and UConn.

Everything could tie into downtown Norwich with trains to the casinos, Utopia, and New London with connections to New Haven, NYC, and Boston.

If things were done right years ago, Willimantic could have also been a connection point with trains into Hartford on the old lines that are now nature walks.

i don't think you'll see a train link in storrs, mainly because uconn already has a free bus that goes to willi hourly that students can take (unless it's changed since i graduated), but one from willi to norwich wouldn't be bad. are there tracks that go up there already?

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i don't think you'll see a train link in storrs, mainly because uconn already has a free bus that goes to willi hourly that students can take (unless it's changed since i graduated), but one from willi to norwich wouldn't be bad. are there tracks that go up there already?

I'm pretty sure there are.. though I have no map (yahoo maps does feature this line, if you wanna follow it and see where it goes that will work). There's a train line on the west side of the Thames River that follows the Yantic through Norwichtown. I assume that one goes to Willi.. In Norwichtown it would be tough to get it double tracked because the hospital, "mall", rt 2 highway, and some other stores get in the way along with the river. The P&W runs paralel to it along the other side of the river and runs north to... Worcester.

on edit: It's the New England Central Railroad, and it does run to Willimantic. I know it is occasionally used, as there is a road crossing by the "mall" in Norwich.

CNE_map_MaximumSmall.jpg

Enlarged pic...

Edited by damus

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I'm pretty sure there are.. though I have no map (yahoo maps does feature this line, if you wanna follow it and see where it goes that will work). There's a train line on the west side of the Thames River that follows the Yantic through Norwichtown. I assume that one goes to Willi.. In Norwichtown it would be tough to get it double tracked because the hospital, "mall", rt 2 highway, and some other stores get in the way along with the river. The P&W runs paralel to it along the other side of the river and runs north to... Worcester.

it's been a while since i've been in willi... i don't remember any train.

but looking at google maps... there is a train line that goes along 32 and goes right by ECSU (a great place for a station). the willi bus from uconn could stop at eastern.

there's also another track that goes from willi to plainfield and a separate one from plainfield to norwich (which must be the P&W one).

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Upon looking around .. this line runs directly by the "frog bridge" on the rt 32 side... and it before that it closes a fork that went east (compared to the Norwich spur going south and east).

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Upon looking around .. this line runs directly by the "frog bridge" on the rt 32 side... and it before that it closes a fork that went east (compared to the Norwich spur going south and east).

now that you mention teh frog bridge, i remember the railroad... i didn't drive 32 very often from norwich to willi as i lived in branford, so i always went through hartford to get to uconn.

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That rail line is in use daily as well as the P&W line, I work next to the latter, it has multiple runs. Both lines have double tracked areas south of the city center, the P&W also has double tracks next to my bldg. There would be areas along the ROW that would allow for trains to pass one another.

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http://www.norwichbulletin.com/apps/pbcs.d...20/1014/OPINION

I'd like to say the letter I sent the Bulletin (among others who haven't gotten back to me) influenced this editorial, but head's not that big...

I believe what's on the table right now is merely a good start. If the area takes off we'd better have rail access to the major attractions and also provide reliable service in areas where growth will be targeted (i.e. between the Sun and Utopia and downtown along the Thames River).

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New England Central runs 4 trains a day from Palmer, Mass to Willimantic via Stafford. In Willimantic the trains run down to Franklin and from there I believe go onto New London?

There is a rail link between Norwich and Willimantic on the west side of the Thames as previously stated.

In the 90's Amtrak ran a train from New London to Montreal via Willimantic.

Willimantic has many train lines running into it. Back in 20's and 30's Willimantic was a very important transportation center with trains to Hartford, Palmer, Boston, Providence, and NYC/New Haven.

Today the only active line is from Palmer to Norwich. The line to Hartford is now a Nature walk, along with the lines onto Boston/Providence which were destroyed during the 38 Hurricane. The line that splits in S. Windham that goes to Plainfield is seldom used but active.

Edited by uconn99

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Today the only active line is from Palmer to Norwich. The line to Hartford is now a Nature walk, along with the lines onto Boston/Providence which were destroyed during the 38 Hurricane. The line that splits in S. Windham that goes to Plainfield is seldom used but active.

That makes no sense.... Why couldn't they upgrade it to a commuter line/link between Providence and Hartford. You could have a couple in Willi and have one work in Hartford, the other in Providence and they could both take the train. You can put a nature walk in anywhere, I'd think it's harder to get the right of way for a railroad.

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That makes no sense.... Why couldn't they upgrade it to a commuter line/link between Providence and Hartford. You could have a couple in Willi and have one work in Hartford, the other in Providence and they could both take the train. You can put a nature walk in anywhere, I'd think it's harder to get the right of way for a railroad.

there aren't enough people in either hartford or providence, nevermind willi to make a commuter line between hartford and providence worthwhile. amtrak wouldn't be a bad idea, but there's not enough between providence and hartford to warrant a commuter line. however, there should be a highway.

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there aren't enough people in either hartford or providence, nevermind willi to make a commuter line between hartford and providence worthwhile. amtrak wouldn't be a bad idea, but there's not enough between providence and hartford to warrant a commuter line. however, there should be a highway.

Are you sure? I think it would work simply in its connecting the two metros, each being 1 million plus. Why are they studying a commuter line from NL to Worcester if THIS wouldn't work? It's not much more of a distance..

BTW: I don't know what you mean by Amtrak being a good idea. The commuter line from New Haven to Springfield will initially only run once an hour, so it can't be the frequent runs... Rails between cities are definately needed in the Northeast.

Edited by damus

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Are you sure? I think it would work simply in its connecting the two metros, each being 1 million plus. Why are they studying a commuter line from NL to Worcester if THIS wouldn't work? It's not much more of a distance..

BTW: I don't know what you mean by Amtrak being a good idea. The commuter line from New Haven to Springfield will initially only run once an hour, so it can't be the frequent runs... Rails between cities are definately needed in the Northeast.

i think a commuter line from new london to worcester would fail. again, not enough people (are there really taht many jobs in new london or worcester?

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i think a commuter line from new london to worcester would fail. again, not enough people (are there really taht many jobs in new london or worcester?

What about tourists? Wouldn't it be nice to siphon tourists off the MBTA and Shoreline East? Also, there will supposedly be 22,500 jobs just at the Utopia main site. This week Gentile should be announcing a major development for downtown Norwich, and he has in the past alluded to wanting to spend $3 billion on development in the first three years of the project alone, including down along the coastline. An economist has been quoted in one of the local papers today as saying that for each casino job, a rule of thumb is one other job has been created as a result. I'm sure the ratio will be at least the same for Utopia. That amounts to 45,000 jobs just taking into account the Utopia main site.

Also factor in North Stonington Studios, Foxwoods expansion, and other developments likely to come rolling in as a result of the forthcoming boom in the area (hopefully corporate offices i.e. large hospitality company, possibly more large tourist attractions) and it is reasonable to say there will be a lot of jobs.

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A theme park larger than the Magic Kingdom (means = biggest in country), TWO casinos, development in Downtown Nowich...

Yeah, there will be enough traffic. The airports alone could probably generate enough.

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Day editorializes the need for more mass-transit, but advocates more buses... I really think the region can easily support rapid transit considering the demographics of many of the casino workers, and the fact that in 10 years we could have 4 "one stop shop" attractions. Add in Pfizer (a rail line runs right through the middle of its groton campus) and EB across the street and there could be a lot of users for a light rail "loop" up the Thames to Norwich, down the route 2 corridor to Westerly, and back to the Thames.

A viable bus system would require the use of smaller vans to service suburban populations and feed into the major bus lines that now exist. Frequency of service would have to increase along bus routes. Any such system would have to be heavily subsidized, but what transportation service is not? The highway system may be the most heavily subsidized transportation system when the cost of construction and maintenance are factored in.

There are hopeful signs.

SEAT ridership is growing at a rate of 7-8 percent the last three years and for the first time may surpass 1 million riders this year. Its first proposed fare increase in a decade, 15 cents, has met no opposition.

Using a $2.2 million grant, SEAT is studying the use of alternative fuel and hybrid buses to reduce pollutants. Also under study is the development of

Edited by damus

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Mystic Seaport to offer summertime water taxi service to downtown Mystic

Beginning June 30, visitors to Mystic will soon be able to take a water taxi from downtown to the museum and back. It will operate through Labor Day.

The museum now operates the taxis from one end of its grounds to the other, and there was always a desire to increase their capacity, museum publicist Michael O'Farrell said.

...

The taxi will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. from the dock behind S&P Oyster House to the north end of the museum. The boats can hold 44 people.

To get to Mystic Seaport from downtown will cost $2 for a one-way fare. If visitors decide to buy admission to the museum, they will get a $2 discount off the regular rate of $17.50. One way from the Seaport to downtown will also cost $2. A roundtrip boat ride will cost $5.

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That's too high, unless they give locals a discount.

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That's too high, unless they give locals a discount.

I guess they're looking to make the boatride itself an attraction. But, yeah it's expensive. A lot of people would not dream of wasting money like that.

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