Bridgeport may have second train station by 2018

Gov. Dannel Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch and State Sen. Andres Ayala (D-23) announce design funding for a new Bridgeport train station.

Mayor Bill Finch, Gov. Dannel Malloy and State Sen. Andres Ayala (D-23) announce design funding for a new Bridgeport train station.

Standing on a weed-strewn lot bounded by shuttered factory buildings and elevated train tracks, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and State Sen. Andres Ayala (D-23 Bridgeport) yesterday announced the approval of $2.75 million in state funds for the design of a new train station on the site, an East End brownfield which was once the location of the Remington Arms factory.

Straining at times to be heard over passing Acela trains, whose horns blew greetings at the buoyant crowd of politicians, officials and community leaders below, Mayor Finch noted that the project was consistent with his plan to make Bridgeport “the greenest city in America,” and said, “When this germ of an idea was started here in this district by the residents … I took it to Governor Malloy, who embraced this so warmly because at his heart, he’s a mayor, and he cares about people at the ground level.”

A blown-up map on display at the site showed schematic plans for the “East Bridgeport Development Corridor,” an area described by Finch as “a mixed-use development project intended to serve as a catalyst for growth” in the neighborhood around the proposed station. Plans for the corridor include a new high school, “transit-oriented” and mixed-income residential developments, and an expansion of Bridgeport Hospital.

“But it will never reach its full potential without a train station nearby,” said Finch, adding that the station — to be called the Barnum Train Station— would make the development corridor attractive for potential employers, residents and businesses.

Malloy said it was “unacceptable” for the largest city in the state to have only one train station, and observed that the location was on an ideal “straight-away” section of track.

Malloy used the occasion to highlight his commitment to transportation, drawing a contrast between Connecticut, which he said under his administration has matched federal funding “dollar for dollar,” and other states, which may have to halt transportation improvements in the face of a threatened end to the federal highway trust fund.

Malloy said funding for Barnum Station is just one part of a coordinated strategy to increase ridership along the New Haven Line by investing in new stations, train cars and rail infrastructure to ensure safer, faster and more reliable service for residents.

Jim Gildea, Vice Chairman of the Connecticut Commuter Rail Council, said he was excited at the prospect of what the station could do “not only for rail commuting but for the surrounding area as well.” Gildea, whose daily train commute to Fairfield takes him through Bridgeport, said that parking congestion is generally “not an issue” at the Bridgeport train station.

Malloy said he would like to see the completion of the project “as soon as humanly possible,” and that it might be finished by 2018.

The State Bond Commission is scheduled to vote on the item at its meeting on July 25.

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