Sen. Boucher Says Hartford Rail Problems Show DOT Unable to Manage Expansion or Tolls

April 10, 2018

State Senator Toni Boucher (R-26) today said the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) move-forward-at-all-costs approach to the Hartford Rail Line demonstrates a lack of judgement and an inability to appropriately manage transportation expansion projects.

As Co-Chair of the legislature’s Transportation Committee, Sen. Boucher said she has been in contact with her Co-Chairs to arrange a meeting with DOT Commissioner James Redeker

“Deciding that 30-year-old rail cars are good enough for Connecticut commuters demonstrates a reckless attitude I have never seen before from the DOT,” Sen. Boucher said. “I can understand not being able to afford brand new cars, but bargain basement shopping just so you can get the project finished is unacceptable. The people of Connecticut deserve better.”

Sen. Boucher said the information is particularly egregious since the State of Massachusetts declared that the cars were too damaged to be worth repairing. However, the Bay State will allow Connecticut to repair and lease the cars as long as they are returned to Massachusetts in good, safe condition in the future.

“Massachusetts will give us their rail cars in deplorable condition so that we can pay to fix them and then pay to use them and then give them back,” she said. “Didn’t anybody ask if New York or Rhode Island had cars in better condition? That would have to be less expensive.”

Sen. Boucher said the situation makes her question whether the Hartford rail line will be sustainable.

“The Hartford to Springfield Rail Line has been plagued by problems since the beginning,” she said. “At the same time, repairs and upgrades to the existing rail line on the Connecticut shore are delayed and the DOT has told those commuters that price increases and schedule reductions are necessary to keep it going. It’s time to say ‘Stop! This isn’t working,’ and reexamine our priorities. How can we effectively run a new rail line when it seems we can’t effectively run the ones we already have?”

Incidents like this, Sen. Boucher said, demonstrate why the DOT should not be given authority over tolls.

“When you look at how the Hartford to Springfield Rail Line is being managed, how buses and other rail lines are being managed, how can anyone believe the DOT will do a better job with tolls?” she asked.

Sen. Boucher represents the communities of Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.