Malloy and his cronies ignore maintaining our main rail system in order to go for sexy-sex. No politician ever got his picture taken standing in front of a replacement railroad tie, but something bright and shiny an brand new? Stand back.
This year Gov. Dannel Malloy and the Department of Transportation moved forward with construction of a rail line running from Hartford to Springfield, Massachusetts. The project has faced delays and a budget of nearly $1 billion but the Governor claims the train will be ready to roll in 2018. Yearly operating costs are estimated to be $27 million.
... The latest payment for Connecticut’s rail line to Massachusetts makes the choices clear. The $155 million borrowed to pay for the new line almost exactly equals the $160 million needed for repairs to Metro-North’s New Haven line.
... On Dec. 4, Gov. Dannel Malloy’s administration borrowed an additional $155 million dollars in order to complete the commuter rail line connecting New Haven to Hartford and Springfield, Mass.
DOT projects that it will complete the Springfield line in 2018 and that the line will serve about 2,000 commuters each weekday. The line is already late and over budget. The total cost to the state for track and signals, assuming the project doesn’t run over budget again, will be about $570 million dollars.
Other costs, including stations, will bring the total cost to more than $1 billion.
By comparison, the New Haven line of Metro-North serves an estimated 125,000 riders per week day, a figure that’s projected to increase by almost 50 percent by 2030.
The New Haven line also can inform us as to how well the Springfield line will be maintained: poorly. The line has a critical repair back log that, if the much needed repairs were made, would cost an estimated $160 million dollars.
Why are Connecticut’s leaders building new rail lines when they fail to maintain – let alone upgrade – the lines we already have? If the state is going to borrow millions of dollars for public transit, leaders should prioritize repairs to existing infrastructure above new projects.
Repairs to the New Haven line would have a dramatic effect on travel times. Curves and crumbling bridges force trains to slow down. Realignment and replacement would allow trains to move at a faster average speed. This is particularly true of newer trains. The M-8 railcars and Acela trains are both hamstrung by poor rail maintenance, undermining the taxpayer’s return on investment.
And so on - business as usual.