U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood gave Connecticut a face-saving pat on the back Monday, saying the state is well-positioned to obtain federal transportation stimulus dollars to develop a high-speed rail corridor from New Haven to Springfield.
“Connecticut has its act together,” LaHood said. “And Connecticut will be connected with intercity, high-speed passenger rail because of the cooperation between the state government, the federal government and the opportunities that are created for the money that may be available in the future.”
Connecticut was one of the few states shut out of a previous round of funding.
LaHood made his comments after joining Gov. M. Jodi Rell, U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd and other officials on an Amtrak train from New Haven to Hartford. The officials presented their plans for upgrading the rail corridor.
After a meeting at the governor’s office in the State Capitol, Rell, Dodd, LaHood and U.S. Reps. John B. Larson of East Hartford, Rosa L. DeLauro of New Haven and Richard Neal of Springfield held a press conference.
“This was a very worthwhile gathering here this morning,” Dodd said.”The train ride up, obviously, there’s nothing like having someone physically seeing at least part of those 62 miles that will be part of this New Haven-to-Springfield corridor.”
“I think we’ve given him a tremendous amount of material to absorb, our plans for the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield corridor,” Rell said of LaHood. “We had a wonder train ride this morning, and I think it gave him, I hope, a new perspective for some of the things that we have planned.”
Connecticut this summer will apply for funding to restore a second main line between New Haven and Springfield, a necessary first step to establishing high-speed rail and and increased commuter service on rail corridor now shared by Amtrak and freight service.
Joseph Marie, the Connecticut commissioner of transportation, said that Amtrak has been part of the state’s planning process and participated in today’s meeting.
Currently, Amtrak provides limited passenger service to New York from Springfield and Hartford.