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Thursday, February 07, 2013    

Connecticut bond commission allocates $170 million for rail projects


Connecticut's State Bond Commission in late January approved $170 million for several passenger-rail projects and a freight-rail program.

The commission allocated $50 million to replace MTA Metro-North Railroad's bridge over Atlantic Street in Stamford, which was built in 1896. The project is designed to improve vehicular accessibility, increase the bridges' vertical clearance from 12 feet, 7 inches to 14 feet, 6 inches, add four new travel lanes and improve pedestrian safety.

The commission also approved about $40 million to transform the Stamford Transportation Center (STC), the busiest Connecticut station on Metro-North's New Haven Line, into a multi-modal commuter complex. The project calls for replacing the aging 727-space parking garage with low-maintenance, long service life facilities featuring a minimum of 1,000 new spaces, improving multi-modal traffic and pedestrian flow around the STC, and promoting transit-oriented development.

In addition, the commission added $9 million to $1 million already in place for "Fixing Freight First," an economic development program designed to rebuild Connecticut's freight-rail system. Under the program, railroads can apply for funds to repair and modernize rail, rail beds, crossings, culverts and related facilities.

Currently, 10 railroads move 8.5 million tons of freight annually through Connecticut on more than 625 miles of track, including some passenger-rail lines, state officials said in a prepared statement.

"Freight rail is an important piece of our economy — not only does it speed commerce, it helps to reduce the number of trucks on our congested highways," said Connecticut Transportation Commissioner James Redeker.

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