Senator Boucher Calls For Feasibility Study Of Light Rail Service In Connecticut

March 10, 2009

Senator Toni Boucher (R-26) is calling for state government to determine which regions of Connecticut could benefit from light rail service.

The General Assembly’s Transportation Committee recently held a public hearing on Senator Boucher’s proposal, SB 237, An Act Concerning A Feasibility Study Of Light Rail Service In Connecticut. Senator Boucher is the leading Republican, or Ranking Member, of the Transportation Committee. The committee unanimously approved the bill which is now pending further legislative action.

“If we are serious about making it easier for people to move around our state, we need to look beyond highways. For the first time in a very long time, our state Department of Transportation is being led by a commissioner who understands that well-run railroads should be an important part of our mass transit system. Now is the time for our state to take a close look at what we can do to ensure that our mass transit system is efficient, is convenient for commuters, and promotes the economic growth of our state,” said Senator Boucher.

Specifically, Senator Boucher’s proposed legislation calls for the DOT Commissioner to work with the Transportation Strategy Board to determine which regions of the state would be well served by light rail service. Findings and recommendations would be submitted to the legislature’s Transportation Committee by July 1, 2010.

Senator Boucher noted that DOT Commissioner Joseph Marie told committee members that other states have successfully incorporated light rail service as part of their mass transit systems, and suggested that a feasibility study could show the Stamford area to be a potentially good candidate because of its high traffic volume.

“It is encouraging to know that other states have had success, but we need to know if it can work here – and, if so, where – before making a huge financial commitment to building our own light rail system. I find it encouraging that Commissioner Marie is cautiously optimistic about the potential for light rail in certain high density areas of our state. But, we need to do a careful study before we proceed further,” said Senator Boucher.

Senator Boucher said she understands any reluctance to take on new expensive projects in this existing, dire, economic climate. However, she said that Connecticut needs to begin making plans now so the state is ready to take advantage of a better economic climate in the future.