Sen. Kissel: Enfield train station “will be a regional resource” (Journal Inquirer)

February 10, 2015

Article as it appeared in the Journal Inquirer

Enfield train station bills to get public hearings
By Mike Savino
Journal Inquirer

Posted: Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Two bills that would help make a train station in Enfield a reality are slated for public hearings Wednesday.

One proposal, submitted by Rep. David Alexander, D-Enfield, would require that the state Department of Transportation build a train station in Enfield by 2016 along the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail line.

The second bill, proposed by Alexander, Rep. David Kiner, D-Enfield, and Sen. John A. Kissel, R-Enfield, would empower the State Bond Commission to issue as much as $15 million for the project.

The legislature’s Transportation Committee is holding a public hearing on these and other bills Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. in the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

All three legislators said a train stop in Enfield along the planned rail line would help revitalize the Thompsonville section of town and provide an economic boost for the region.

“The train station will be a regional resource, which will foster responsible, transit-oriented growth in our area,” Kissel said.

Alexander even called the stop an “economic game-changer,” saying it could attract investors and business owners seeking younger professionals.

He also said his goal in proposing a statutory requirement for the location is to spark a discussion with the Transportation Committee, although he would love to see the bill passed.

Although the bond commission twice authorized the release of money for planning purposes, the town isn’t guaranteed a train stop. And the project seemed derailed as recently as two years ago.

But Alexander said a similar proposal two years ago also got a public hearing, and it was that and similar efforts by legislators that helped build momentum.

Kiner agreed. “It’s going to get done,” he said. “It’s a fight we’ve been fighting for years and will win.”

Kissel also expressed optimism because of bipartisan support for the project.

The train stop even drew support from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy during a visit in September.

The bond commission, of which Malloy is chairman, authorized planning funds in January for the Enfield station as part of a $5.75 million package for the “Hartford Line” of the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail line.

Malloy also has highlighted rail service as part of his call for an overhaul to the state’s transportation system, and area legislators said this particular line could play an important part.

“This is the most important transportation project in New England,” Alexander said, adding the project would connect rail lines from Boston to New York City.

Alexander, Kiner, and other area legislators also have said the rail line eventually could include a connector to Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks.