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Sen. Boucher: Location of New Stamford Parking Garage Raised Questions at Recent DOT Public Meeting

September 24, 2012

Hartford, CT – Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) ranking member on the Transportation Committee is questioning the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) proposal to locate the new parking garage for the Stamford train station down the road from the platform.

“The DOT has stated that the new parking garage could be constructed as far as a quarter mile away from the train station. Though a quarter mile may seem like a reasonable distance, it could cause considerable safety and convenience issues, particularly for the disabled and for senior citizens,” said Sen. Boucher.

Sen. Boucher has expressed her concern in a written letter to the Department of Transportation’s Assistant Planning Director for the project. In the letter Boucher suggests:

Placing a new parking structure so far from the train station would also add a considerable amount of time to daily commutes, further inconveniencing the public.

As a legislator, Sen. Boucher represents seven communities in Fairfield County that depend heavily on the New Haven Line for travel and to commute to and from work each day. The current Stamford parking garage has reached the end of its useful life. The Department of Transportation has undertaken the necessary step of constructing a new and larger parking facility to better accommodate commuters’ needs.

However, Boucher is concerned about recent comments made during a public hearing in Hartford – where the Stamford project was a topic of conversation.

“Although I appreciate Commissioner Redeker’s pledge that additional handicapped parking will be available at the station itself, the lack of specific information about the DOT’s plans so far leaves doubts as to how well people with special needs will be accommodated,” said Sen. Boucher.

The DOT also held a recent meeting in Stamford to discuss the proposal. Commuters expressed concern about the distance of the garage and a proposed land swap they believe will not benefit commuters. Senator Boucher agrees the land swap is curious.

“Relocating the new parking garage away from the train station in order to develop the land under the current garage raises some question of appropriate use of valuable public land,” said Sen. Boucher. “The DOT should give priority to the commuters, and not entertain any development that would push parking farther away from the platforms.”

In her letter to DOT, Sen. Boucher acknowledged that she fully appreciates the challenges that the DOT faces in building a new parking garage to serve the busiest train station in Connecticut but also implored the project director to ‘keep commuter parking in its current location as the best means of accomplishing this goal.’

It is unclear when the DOT will make a final decision on where the new parking garage will be built.


(Attached: Boucher letter to DOT Assistant Planning Director)

September 21, 2012

Mr. Mark W. Alexander
Transportation Assistant Planning Director
P.O. Box 317546
Newington, CT 06131-7546

Dear Mr. Alexander,

As a legislator, I represent seven communities in Fairfield County that depend heavily on the New Haven Line for travel and to commute to and from work each day. Many of my constituents also make extensive use of the Stamford Train Station and parking garage. As the current Stamford parking garage reaches the end of its useful life, the Department of Transportation has undertaken the necessary step of constructing a new and larger parking facility to better accommodate commuters’ needs. While this development would be a welcome improvement, the potential location of the new garage raises some troubling possibilities.

The DOT has stated that the new parking garage could be constructed as far as a quarter mile away from the train station. Though a quarter mile may seem like a reasonable distance, it could cause considerable safety and convenience issues, particularly for the disabled and for senior citizens. Although I appreciate Commissioner Redeker’s pledge that additional parking will be available at the station itself, the lack of specific information about the DOT’s plans so far leaves doubts as to how well people with special needs will be accommodated. Placing a new parking structure so far from the train station would also add a considerable amount of time to daily commutes, further inconveniencing the public.

This was also the opinion of most of the people who attended Thursday’s hearing. One of the chief concerns that commuters expressed was that the DOT would relocate the new parking garage in order to develop the land under the current garage for unrelated purposes. They regard this plan as a misuse of valuable land. I agree with these commuters that in constructing a new garage, the DOT should give priority to their convenience, eschewing any development that would push parking farther away from the platforms.

In order to minimize the inconvenience to rail passengers, and to offer the easiest possible access to the train station, the new parking garage should occupy the same space as the current one. Any alternative parking that the DOT provides near the train station should be for temporary use, until the new parking structure has been completed. This arrangement would provide the most benefit to the many commuters who pass through the Stamford Train Station each day.

I fully appreciate the challenges that the DOT faces in building a new parking garage to serve the busiest train station in Connecticut. I hope that you will decide to keep commuter parking in its current location as the best means of accomplishing this goal. Thank you for your consideration of this important matter.

Sincerely,

Toni Boucher
State Senator