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(rshsdepot) Bridgeport, CT

Train station, high-speed ferry get U.S. boost

By SUSAN SILVERS ssilvers_@_ctpost.com
Connecticut Post

Two local transportation projects will be staying on track

or afloat

with the help of a massive congressional spending bill passed Thursday.

The bill includes $2.5 million toward replacing the city's train station and
$1 million to help develop high-speed ferry service to Stamford and lower
New York, according to U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, R-4.

"It's very critical we get an appropriation every year," said city Planning
and Economic Development Director Michael Freimuth, who has been shepherding
the intermodal transportation center. The downtown center, which has been on
the drawing boards for years, is designed to meld train, bus, ferry and
taxis services.

Freimuth said it still is expected to take at least several years to put
together funding for the estimated $45 million to complete the facilities.

Thus far, the city has acquired more than $30 million in aid, which has gone
toward early phases of the center. The funds cover a $19 million parking
garage near the Harbor Yard sports complex, with the remainder earmarked
primarily to build a new bus terminal. That bus project is now being

The new rail station is envisioned as an over-the-track structure, which
will eliminate a tunnel under the tracks that some people consider
intimidating. But Freimuth noted the construction will be extremely costly,
since work will have to be scheduled so as not to interfere with scheduled

He said the newly allocated funds may go toward preliminary relocation of
utilities and planning, although he cautioned that the new rail station
itself is at least several years away.

Meanwhile, Port Authority Director Joseph Riccio said the federal money for
the ferry project will be used for engineering. He said his agency is in
negotiation for property to build a new dock.

The ferry service would be operated by NY Fast Ferry, which already operates
regular routes between New Jersey and New York. Locally, it is hoped a
high-speed ferry could remove as many as 1,500 cars commuting daily from
Interstate 95 between here and Stamford, he said.

From Stamford, the service would proceed to New York City, and could be an
attractive alternative for commuters who don't like the hassle of dealing
with a subway after their train ride, Riccio said.

"We have been looking for transportation alternatives to I-95 and the
Merritt," Shays said. "The Bridgeport high-speed ferry will provide relief
to commuters in our area, many of whom won't use Metro-North because of the
length of their commute to downtown Manhattan."

However, the ferry won't be operating any time soon, either.

Riccio said preparations for the service would take at least 18 months,
including dredging and other expenses that would cost $6 million overall.

The Railroad Station Historical Society maintains a database of existing
railroad structures at: http://www.rrshs.org


End of RSHSDepot Digest V1 #598

The Railroad Station Historical Society maintains a database of existing
railroad structures at: http://www.rrshs.org