This afternoon, Congressman Chris Murphy paid a visit to Danbury and Waterbury to speak out against Gov Rell's proposal to eliminate of the Metro-North rail service. The recommendation to eliminate the service in Danbury and Waterbury was one of several spending cut proposals Rell suggested to state lawmakers last week.
From this afternoon in Waterbury, here's highlights of Congressman Murphy's presser.
“We are pumping federal and state resources into the state’s branch lines right now, so Governor Rell’s proposal to cancel service on these lines now would be a foolish mistake. On top of the federal grants we’ve already secured for commuter rail in Connecticut, there may be more to come, ushering in a new era in commuter rail in parts of the state that desperately need it. We can’t give up now - too much is riding on commuter rail,”
Murphy has long been a supporter of the rail branch lines, holding riding meetings on the Waterbury and Danbury lines to discuss how to expand service and increase ridership. He firmly believes that accessible, affordable commuter rail service is essential to Connecticut's future economic development, and he, along with the rest of the Congressional delegation, have been fighting for and winning federal funding for commuter rail in the state.
In Danbury, the line is currently undergoing a signaling system update funded by federal stimulus dollars and state resources. The state has committed $10 million to make a variety of capital improvements to stations along the MetroNorth New Haven line, including the branch lines. The 27-mile Waterbury branch is the longest of the three New Haven branch lines, and is poised to be a major commuter resource if upgraded. Meanwhile, the Connecticut Department of Transportation is nearing the completion of multi-year feasibility scoping studies to examine cost-effective alternatives for increasing ridership on the Danbury, Waterbury, and New Canaan branch lines. Yet last week, Governor Rell sent a letter to the Connecticut General Assembly outlining ways to cut state spending, including eliminating service on the state’s three branch lines.
“Put simply, Governor Rell’s proposal to eliminate service on these branch lines would be a disaster for Connecticut commuters at a time when we are working diligently to secure additional federal support for their expansion and improvement,” said Murphy.