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Local lawmakers backing bills to improve rail service

Several bills to improve rail lines in Western Connecticut are being considered by the legislature's Transportation Committee.  Some area lawmakers were among those testifying in support of the bills this week. 

 

Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan says Housatonic Railroad has already done a private study about extending passenger service from Danbury to New Milford and up to Massachusetts.  A Department of Transportation study would cost $350,000.  McLachlan says it would also look at restoring service from Brewster to Danbury.

 

McLachlan says a private company is willing to share some of the cost of extending the line from Danbury to Massachusetts because of the potential tourism dollars that would come in.  Massachusetts has already committed more than $12 million to improve its lines near the state border.

 

The study would look into the engineering feasibility, including a review of the cost estimates provided by the Housatonic Railroad to replace tracks and provide stations.  It would also test the market feasibility, including a financial analysis to analyze whether projected ridership numbers are reasonable.  The proposed bill also calls for inclusion of the economic impact study commissioned by the Housatonic Railroad to independently determine the economic impact for northwestern Connecticut.

 

An additional bill being considered would restore the Housatonic Railroad freight service to Massachusetts.

 

Wilton Senator Toni Boucher wants to electrify the line from Norwalk to Wilton, and then to Danbury.  It was de-electrified in 1969.

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Todd Schnitt

Local Headlines