Caucus will Focus on Improvements to Waterbury Line
HARTFORD – State Representatives Rosa Rebimbas (R – Naugatuck), Linda Gentile (D – Ansonia, Derby) and State Senators George Logan (R – Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bethany, Derby, Hamden, Naugatuck, Woodbridge) and Joan Hartley (D – Waterbury, Middlebury, Naugatuck) have been named co-chairs of the newly formed Railway Caucus.
The Railway Caucus, led by one member from each of the four General Assembly caucuses, will be tasked with advocating for improvements to the Waterbury Line, which services Naugatuck Valley. The bipartisan caucus believes that transportation improvements will lead to economic growth in the region, but has recognized a number of issues that must be addressed. Issues include limited service, increased ridership, single track, dated equipment and lack of station amenities. In addition, a growing population will put additional stress on existing infrastructure.
In February, a Rail Summit was held to discuss infrastructure improvements and funding methods for the Waterbury Line. Goals include replacing diesel locomotives, replacing aging train-sets and coaches, increasing service frequency and improving station amenities. Proponents are confident that these improvements will spur economic development, revitalize town centers, increase property values, decrease congestion, improve traffic conditions, create a more efficient freight system, and improve health and safety.
“If we were to hold exit interviews each time an employer left Connecticut, most would identify our transportation infrastructure as a major issue,” said Rep. Rebimbas. “I would like to thank Representative Gentile, Senators Logan and Hartley, and our colleagues who will join us as we work to improve the Waterbury Line. Many commuters do not use public transportation because it does not provide the services they need. If we are successful, we can encourage residents to rely more on rail service and less on highways. I am confident these enhancements will improve regional traffic, help local businesses and attract new ones. ”
“The Waterbury rail line is one of the busiest,” Rep. Gentile said. “This line is a vital piece to our transportation strategy and deserves to be a big part of any transportation conversations. This bipartisan caucus will give us the vehicle to do just that.”
“All aboard the Railway Caucus!” Sen. Logan said. “We, as pro-growth lawmakers, are coming together with a common focus and a common goal for the region. We are uniting in our efforts to craft long-term economic development policies for the towns we represent. By speaking with one consistent voice on behalf of the Waterbury Line, I believe we can really make a lasting, positive impact in a variety of areas.”
“The Waterbury branch line offers exponential opportunities for economic growth of the entire Naugatuck Valley,” Sen. Hartley said. “The formation of the Waterbury branch line caucus is critical to maximizing the full potential of this vital rail service.”
The 2018 Session of the Connecticut General Assembly convened on February 7th and will conclude May 9th. While the legislature is tasked with making budget adjustments during the short session, several officials are committed to addressing other issues, such as rail service, before session adjourns.