Conn. breaks ground on $567M bus-only project [Associated Press]

May 24, 2012

Article as it appeared in the Associated Press

May 22, 2012, 2:20 p.m. PDT

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy joined other officials in breaking ground Tuesday on a $567 million bus-only corridor from Hartford to New Britain, saying the project promises to bring more jobs, economic development and cleaner transportation.

The Democratic governor led a brief ceremony for the 9.4-mile CTfastrak, expected to open in 2014 and connect the University of Connecticut Medical Center, Westfarms Mall, Central Connecticut State University and the Hartford and New Britain downtown districts.

“Let’s get our state moving again,” Malloy told the rain-soaked crowd gathered under a tent at a future station in Hartford. After 16 years of planning, Malloy said it was “high time we get it going.”

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra said the buses, many of which will run on fuel cells, also would benefit the public health, even reducing asthma.

Once called the busway, it is now called CTfastrak to describe fast transportation free of traffic, similar to rail travel combined with the flexibility and direct service of a bus. Ctfastrak is being built on an abandoned railroad corridor.

Connecticut is spending $112 million as its share of the total. Critics say the project is too costly and will fall short of ridership projections. Supporters say construction will create 4,000 jobs and the project will require 100 workers.

The project also is touted as a way to boost the construction of residential, office and commercial development at 11 transit stations.

“We’ve been in a depression in the construction industry,” said Ed Reilly of the Iron Workers union.

State Sen. Joe Markley, an opponent of the project, watched the ceremony from the back of the crowd.

“One of the reasons I came was to hear all the promises,” the Republican legislator said.

He said he has not lost hope that the project may eventually be halted with new elected leadership at the state or federal levels next year or later.