I wrote a story for The Bristol Press yesterday about a state bill to allow a replacement railroad bridge (a bridge over a railroad track) on Broad Street in Hartford to be more than two feet lower than regulations require.
Who cares? The railroads do, and perhaps we all should, as a letter on the issue to lawmakers, from the regional planning agency, makes clear.
The bridge is needed for the New Britain-Hartford busway, but if it is lowered, it could be an impediment to freight and passenger rail cars.
Much of my story focuses on a letter from the Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency to lawmakers, warning them of the trouble with the bill.
I don't think my story has run yet (hopefully soon!), but here's the letter from CCRPA Regional Planner Francis Pickering, emailed a week ago to some members of the Transportation Committee:
Dear Transportation Committee Members,
The Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency (CCRPA) would like to share its concern about Senate Bill 411, An Act Concerning the Replacement of the Broad Street Bridge over the Amtrak Railroad Tracks in Hartford.
This bill would lower the statutory minimum clearance for this bridge from 22’ 6” to 19’ 4”. Discussions with stakeholders, including the owners of the railroad whose tracks and trains pass under the bridge, suggest that such a reduction could have profoundly negative consequences for passenger and freight operations through the region. It has been indicated to us that 19’ 4” will not only preclude enhanced intermodal service between points north and New Haven/Waterbury; it will also render electrification—a prerequisite for a true high-speed rail connection between New York City and Boston via Hartford—impossible.
CCRPA understands that, in an environment of constrained funding, tough choices have to be made. However, these choices must not endanger the state’s economic, social, or environmental wellbeing. The potential for rail, both passenger and freight, along the New Haven/Waterbury-Hartford-Springfield corridor is enormous. CCRPA cannot support any transportation project that undermines this potential.
CCRPA therefore strongly urges you to take a closer look at this legislation. In particular, we ask that you invite the parties the proposed height reduction would affect—including Amtrak, Pan Am Railways, and Metro-North—to testify as to the impacts this change would have on present and future rail operations.
Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Carl Stephani or me.
Thank you for your consideration.
FRANCIS R. PICKERING
Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency
225 North Main Street, Suite 304, Bristol, CT 06010-4993
t (860) 589-7820 x18 f (860) 589-6950 http://ccrpa.org/