Central Connecticut and its biggest cities, New Haven and Hartford, have never been known for strong transit, at least not compared with the parts of the state closer to New York.
Amtrak service between New Haven, Hartford, and Springfield, Massachusetts, has always operated sporadically and never been regular enough for commuting. But that is about to change.
The state is adding additional tracks that will make rail commuting possible when the project is complete in 2016. Meanwhile, a major bus rapid transit project — CT Fastrack — will link Hartford, New Britain, and adjoining towns along a 9.4-mile route. The $550 million project will be completed next year.
Now another critical piece of the puzzle is coming together with the state’s new budget. Governor Dannel Malloy has included $7 million in funding to support transit-oriented development in the state. The allocation was a victory for advocates for affordable housing and sustainable transportation in Connecticut.
Steven Higashide of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign said the TOD funding and the coming transit improvements will give towns and cities throughout the region an opportunity to really strengthen their downtowns. The money will be especially helpful in locations where housing markets are weaker, he said.
“Many of those towns, these are not Gold Coast, prosperous towns,” he said. “A lot of these towns are struggling and transit-oriented affordable housing in their downtowns would be a big asset.”
In financially supporting transit-oriented development at the state level, Connecticut will join just a handful of other states, including New Jersey, Minnesota, California, and Utah, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
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