Sen. Somers voices support for commuter rail expansion

December 16, 2022

Residents, Sen. Somers voice support for commuter rail expansion

(The Day of New London)

Groton ― Residents and officials on Thursday voiced strong support for expanding commuter rail, as the state Department of Transportation studies the feasibility of expanding Shore Line East into Westerly, R.I. and adding passenger rail between New London and Norwich.

As part of its Eastern Connecticut Corridor Rail and Transit Study, the DOT also is looking at the feasibility of building new train stations in Groton and Stonington Borough.

About 50 people attended an information session Thursday at the Submarine Force Museum.

According to the DOT’s presentation, a feasibility study is “the first step in evaluating the viability of service,” and depending on the study’s findings, “increasingly detailed studies and designs may follow.”

The DOT, which made a public survey available online this month and is conducting public outreach and discussions with working groups, anticipates finishing the study, including cost projections, in the fall of 2023, but a preliminary feasibility assessment is expected in early 2023.

Officials representing Groton, New London, Stonington and Westerly, R.I., were among those who spoke in support of the expanded rail service Thursday.

According to preliminary findings outlined in the presentation, it would be “conceptually feasible“ to have one commuter train per hour run in each direction between Westerly, R.I. and New London.

In response to a question about what kind of opposition the DOT is expecting, DOT Project Manager Elise Greenberg said all the feedback the agency received so far has been favorable.

Several legislators spoke in support.

State Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton, said it’s very important for the region and called it an “economic driver.” She also said it would help with carbon emissions moving forward.

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