An improvement project on the Danbury Branch of Metro North over a decade in the works has been officially closed out by the state Department of Transportation. Wilton Senator Toni Boucher says the problem-plagued effort to have a computerized control signal is finally in place and working properly.
Most of the work on the project was completed two years ago, but engineers have to put a "stop-and-warn" procedure in place because of issues with the crossing gates at intersections along the branch line.
But she says physical roadblocks weren't the only issue. Funding was also a challenge. She says state funding had been diverted for other uses or taken to close a budget deficit. Because officials waited so long, it was just a month before federal funding would be lost that they pulled together and made sure the project got put in place.
Previously, someone would have to get out of the rail car and pull a lever to allow trains to pass each other. She called that 1800s-style technology something from pioneer days.
Boucher says the upgrade means that more trains can be added, and they can move faster down the tracks. She adds that this is the first step toward electrifying the rail line.