"Connecticut’s infrastructure is our oxygen. We can’t live as a state without investment in our roads and our bridges and our rails,” spoke Senator Chris Murphy yesterday afternoon in New Haven's Union Station, alongside his senior Senatorial colleague Richard Blumenthal, Governor Dannel Malloy, and all five of the State's federal representatives, including first term Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, Connecticut's only delegate to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Murphy is keenly aware of the importance of a healthy transportation system in our state, and it is both exciting and relieving to hear the entire suite of our elected officials acknowledging this reality.
Despite the relatively small size of our state, we're home to a string of important centers and hubs from the New York adjacent panhandle, to New Haven and the seaboard, north through Middletown, Hartford, and the entire river valley. The ability to transition smoothly from town to town, city to city, is a vital and often daily necessity for most businesses in Connecticut, as well as noncommercial necessities.
The need for fast, reliable, safe, and affordable transportation in Connecticut swells when its realized that our State does not function in a vacuum and that so much of our lives here are interconnected with the operations of New York, Providence, Western Massachusetts, and the greater Boston area.
With this in mind, Senator Blumenthal asked former Charlotte, NC mayor Anthony Foxx in May to visit Connecticut promptly after his confirmation as Secretary of Transportation (where he was unanimously approved by the Senate) on June 27th. Foxx kept his promise and made New Haven his first visit as Secretary.
While some of the rail infrastructure in the Northeast more than a century old, an a train collision on the Metro North line just a few months past, the time for federal acknowledgement of what we in Connecticut have known for quite some time fell on appreciative ears.
Secretary Foxx articulated the importance of the Northeast corridor rail line, "the busiest railroad in America," but was not specific about his exact plans to make improvements, additions, or updates. He established safety as a primary concern, but left anyone hoping to leave his speech with hard facts and figures a little empty.
Nevertheless, State officials are optimistic. They see the Secretary's visit, only a month into his term, as a strong indication of his commitment to improving Connecticut's rail system. Governor Malloy voiced plans to remain a "squeaky wheel" in Washington to ensure federal funding comes through to assist in the revitalization project, the plans for which can be found here at the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Rail Program's official website.
This visit follows closely on Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker's appointment to Chairman of the Northeast Corridor Commission in June, for a two year term.
Hopefully, the NEC Commission, a recent Congressional creation, working closely with the State and Federal officials, will lead to a safe, efficient, reliable, convenient, and sustainable system of public railways in our corner of the world. Until then, it would be wise to follow the Governor's advice, and remain a squeaky wheel.