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IN PROGRESS: Hartford-New Britain Busway/ CTFastrak


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So, I have to work in Waterbury today, so I had the luxury of driving from Hartford to Waterbury directly without traffic. What do you guys think about adding rail to the center median of I-84? There are large swaths that are just wide open, and a few that are not ( 84/72 interchange, the approach to the Waterbury line...), but I think they could engineer some rail lines in the median. Thoughts?

Looking at it, I would think that a tunnel from the existing NB line that extends through Plainville/Bristol could be split so that it tunnels under the 72/84 interchange. The line is already at a lower level so that it can tunnell under 72. Running between 84E and W down through Southington would only mean adding rail bridges where the highway already crosses roads. The problem I think would be from the state police who would lose their beloved hiding places along the highway. Also there would be an issue in Milldale just before and at the 691 interchange. I do see a possible alternative at this point though. There is a power-line that runs just north of the 84/691 interchange, West to Waterbury. At this point, it could connect with an existing rail line, just north of downtown Waterbury. I dont know where the station would be in Waterbury, but this seems like a more direct route than sticking with 84 the entire way. And it would entail much less resistance from neighborhoods since it wouldnt be taking any away. I like the idea since it would be tough to find room for a rail line in the NB, Plainville, Bristol, Southington areas.

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Looking at it, I would think that a tunnel from the existing NB line that extends through Plainville/Bristol could be split so that it tunnels under the 72/84 interchange. The line is already at a lower level so that it can tunnell under 72. Running between 84E and W down through Southington would only mean adding rail bridges where the highway already crosses roads. The problem I think would be from the state police who would lose their beloved hiding places along the highway. Also there would be an issue in Milldale just before and at the 691 interchange. I do see a possible alternative at this point though. There is a power-line that runs just north of the 84/691 interchange, West to Waterbury. At this point, it could connect with an existing rail line, just north of downtown Waterbury. I dont know where the station would be in Waterbury, but this seems like a more direct route than sticking with 84 the entire way. And it would entail much less resistance from neighborhoods since it wouldnt be taking any away. I like the idea since it would be tough to find room for a rail line in the NB, Plainville, Bristol, Southington areas.

I am all for using highway medians for mass transit. I love what BART does in that regard.

in our situation, I do not know why we would not use the rail lines allready there? am i missing something? wasn't pan am rail talking about sprucing up their ROW for passenger service? why re-invent the wheel in places that have wheels rusty as they may be sitting all round.

I think using highway median could be well used East of the river where there are much less rail lines (torn up). I 84 median east could prove useful. it could also help in the connecting middletown to a rail network.

the existing lines near I 84 even go through downtowns, so they rock for rail lines!

but what rocks about highway rail lines.... is being stuck in traffic and having a train blow past you. and then, when you are even traveling at near the same speed as the train, you look over and see people reading books, or newspapers, or even working while you are having to drive

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I could currently travel from Berlin, where I live, to Hartford, where I work, via train or rail except that A) I pick up my work truck on Brainard Rd, which is nowhere near downtown and the train station, and B) the bus would take me 45 to 50 minutes to do what takes me 12 minutes to drive. This is why we need more transit, I shouldn't have to drive that way....

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I am all for using highway medians for mass transit. I love what BART does in that regard.

in our situation, I do not know why we would not use the rail lines allready there? am i missing something? wasn't pan am rail talking about sprucing up their ROW for passenger service? why re-invent the wheel in places that have wheels rusty as they may be sitting all round.

I think using highway median could be well used East of the river where there are much less rail lines (torn up). I 84 median east could prove useful. it could also help in the connecting middletown to a rail network.

the existing lines near I 84 even go through downtowns, so they rock for rail lines!

but what rocks about highway rail lines.... is being stuck in traffic and having a train blow past you. and then, when you are even traveling at near the same speed as the train, you look over and see people reading books, or newspapers, or even working while you are having to drive

I hadnt looked at the entire length of train from NB to Waterbury, but eventhough it isnt the most direct route, it definitely would be the cheapest option. I think you're right that it would be a plus for mass transit in CT if a train were blowing by people in their cars on the highway.

One thing that caught my eye is the New Britain to Berlin line, more specifically the location of Berlin station. If NB and Berlin were to be on the same line, wouldnt the station need to be moved? Currently it is on the north-south line from New Haven to Hartford, but the location where NB connects to this line is north of the station. It seems it would need to be moved in order to be on the both lines.

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I think if a Waterbury Hartford Rail happens, local trains would be able to turn south into Berlin, then after stopping, head North (backwards) to Hartford.

Express trains would not stop in Berlin, and would head on to Hartford directly from NB.

just a thought.

I do think though that a long term solution might be a different transfer point to the NH line if you are coming from Waterbury.

it does not have to be Berlin.

but I think moving the Berlin station slightly out of Kensington just n on the NH coridore would allows for smoother transitions. still annoyingly detoured, but smoother than backing in.

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  • 3 weeks later...

ConnDOT is still pushing for this idiotic busway? They've been doing so since I was a student at UConn in 2000. Even back then, I thought it was a ridiculous idea, seeing that there was a perfectly good right-of-way for trains to run there.

Definitely no need to back in and out of Berlin station. Busway supporters would jump all over that issue. Didn't there used to be a track junction just north of the Berlin station that allowed trains coming from Waterbury/New Britain to turn north toward Hartford? Can't those tracks just be rebuilt?

I'm just surprised that nothing has been done for 10 years and this isn't even a rail project.

Edited by Mike D
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Mike Nicastro is still going strong trying to get this rail line implemented somehow. Good on him. Keep up the fight, Mike! Hopefully our next governor will help you out here.

Bristol Press

BRISTOL — Hoping to learn from the success of a commuter rail project in Massachusetts, the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce will host a public presentation by a regional planner key to that endeavor.

Tim Brennan, executive director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission in Central Massachusetts, will speak at the chamber Tuesday at 10 a.m.

Mike Nicastro, president of the chamber, said the 52-mile “Knowledge Corridor” rail project, which has been in the works less than two years, won federal funding in February and will be operating in the next 24 months.

“It’s pretty exciting what they did,” said Nicastro. “It’s only 18 to 20 months old.”

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I hope Mike keeps up the fight. The busway is a stupid idea. Rail makes way more sense for the Hartford/New Britain/Waterbury corridor.

I need to find out more about this "Knowledge Corridor" in Massachusetts. Hope this can be some sort of precedent for Central CT.

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I hope Mike keeps up the fight. The busway is a stupid idea. Rail makes way more sense for the Hartford/New Britain/Waterbury corridor.

I need to find out more about this "Knowledge Corridor" in Massachusetts. Hope this can be some sort of precedent for Central CT.

its actually a bi-state thing

its stretches down to new haven.

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  • 3 months later...

For what its worth. Busway advocates now insist they also support rail but want to get started on what is pretty much ready to go. I guess it's a fair point.

Bristol Press

Why is it either or?

It shouldn’t be.

If rail is viable, it should be supported.

It shouldn’t be at the expense of the busway. Why are two cities begging for crumbs? Let Washington and Hartford continue to support the busway and support rail.

No one has ever adequately answered one very simple question — Why do the Bristol opponents of a New Britain-Hartford Busway think that abandoning the busway will automatically mean smooth sailing for a rail line? One has to be terminally naïve to believe that’s true.

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  • 1 month later...

I wasnt sure where else to post this and since it really is just a fantasy idea I thought I'd throw it into a discussion on transit into Hartford.

While looking at a google map of downtown I noticed how Asylum runs all the way from the Old State House past St Josephs College. It occurs to me that a light rail (or trolley) could be useful along this route. Along with St Joes is UConn's Hartford branch, much residential, St Francis hospital, Aetna, The Hartford, Union Station (most important), entertainment, XL and Hartford 21, downtown buildings and Columbus Plaza is a short walk from the Old State House.

This could help bring more students living downtown with a ride to school, professionals from W.Hartford with a ride into the city, more prof's with a ride from downtown residences into the insurance district, etc etc. Plus it would move right through Union Station which would be even more beneficial if local rail becomes a reality (Waterbury, New Britain).

Again, it's a fantasy I know and i'm sure there are reasons not to do it (other than financial) but it was on my mind.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Potentially a huge game changer and perhaps a tell as to which way Malloy is leaning on the Busway.

Hartford Courant

Among the projects that needs a second look: the New Britain busway, Sen. Donald DeFronzo, D-New Britain, said.

"A number of projects have to come in for additional scrutiny," DeFronzo said in an interview.

DeFronzo might have even more influence over those projects after Dan Malloy is sworn in as governor next month. At the Capitol, DeFronzo is widely rumored to be on Malloy's short list of potential appointees to run the Department of Transportation.

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is getting very interesting. I really hope Malloy can switch this to rail somehow.

Hartford Courant

Malloy's choice will also need good contacts in Washington. The new governor is looking for Connecticut to land federal aid by better coordinating its housing, transit and environmental initiatives, a strategy that's popular with the Obama administration. Lobbying for transit-oriented development money along the New Haven-to-Springfield rail line, for instance, is an obvious priority, Malloy said. Deciding the future of the busway plan is more problematic.

"We'll have to wrestle with that very quickly," he said. "Rail or light rail is a better option. If I could flip a switch and do that, I'd do that."

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  • 3 months later...

The Busway will be built. It's dissapointing to me that we don't try to replace the project with rail but at least Malloy says he is going to study Waterbury-Bristol rail. I assume this means that if built the rail line would go from Bristol to New Britain to Berlin and connect with the New Haven-Hartford line in Newington. I could live with that I suppose but I definitely feel like this project could accomplish much more for much less money as just a rail project.

Malloy's Letter

Hartford Courant

Malloy said entered into a deliberate process regarding the busway, meeting with both advocates and critics.

"I did something that hasn't been done around here in a while: I brought everybody together and had a conversation. And gave everyone an opportunity to make their arguments," he said at an afternoon press conference at the Legislative Office Building.

And while both sides made "good and sound arguments, Malloy said, he ultimately came to believe the project deserves to be built. It will create untold new jobs, he said.

"I believe the busway should move forward with all due course. but at the same time I also believe we need to move rapidly toward making money available to do the early work on the reintroduction of a Waterbury to Bristol connection," he said.

Malloy said he would place a request for $1 million to begin the process of planning that project.

The busway and the Waterbury-to-Bristol line are not mutually exclusive, he said.

"I believe we can continue down these two avenues or tracks,'' he said. "It is clear Connecticut can no longer afford the status quo on any front, including our current transportation system."

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  • 4 weeks later...

Un-effing-believable..... build ANYTHING but this.

State Sen. Andrew Roraback ripped the proposed New Britain to Hartford busway Friday morning before the measure was approved in a fast vote.

Roraback said the $567 million project was a waste of money at a time when the state and federal governments are running up large deficits.

A Litchfield County Republican, Roraback said that the state could buy 28,350 new Jeep Patriots with the amount of money that was being spent on the 9.4-mile busway.

After comments by Roraback and Rep. Sean Williams, Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy immediately called for a vote. Neither Malloy nor any of the proponents for the busway made any comments before the vote.

The measure passed by 7 to 3.

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Un-effing-believable..... build ANYTHING but this.

State Sen. Andrew Roraback ripped the proposed New Britain to Hartford busway Friday morning before the measure was approved in a fast vote.

Roraback said the $567 million project was a waste of money at a time when the state and federal governments are running up large deficits.

A Litchfield County Republican, Roraback said that the state could buy 28,350 new Jeep Patriots with the amount of money that was being spent on the 9.4-mile busway.

After comments by Roraback and Rep. Sean Williams, Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy immediately called for a vote. Neither Malloy nor any of the proponents for the busway made any comments before the vote.

The measure passed by 7 to 3.

yeah, I read it and well, I guess I have had to accept that its happening for a few months now.

frekin stupid

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  • 6 months later...

http://www.courant.com/community/bristol/hc-bristol-passenger-train-1114-20111113,0,6551149.story

Michael Nicastro of the Central CT Chamber of Commerce has now shifted his focus from fighting the Hartford-New Britain Busway to trying to get the Waterbury branch of Metro North extended all the way to Berlin. This would connect the Bristol area with Metro North and provide a direct connection between Central CT and NYC. This would also enable the line to connect with the planned New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail service, and while not the most direct route from Bristol to Hartford, there would still be a rail connection in place. I really would like to see this happen. The Busway fight is over, and I'm willing to give it a chance and see if it works out, but hopefully the state will see the value of further expanding CT's rail infrastructure as well and we can actually have both projects implemented.

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