Officials push to get Bridgeport East Side train station back on track
BRIDGEPORT — The day after news came that plans for a new East Side train station in the city had been put on hold, several city officials voiced their continued support of the plan in a news release.
In a letter to the Council on Environmental Quality, the state Department of Transportation announced Tuesday it was tabling the long-awaited project. The project would allow for the creation of a station between Seaview Avenue and Pembroke Street.
“CTDOT has since determined that it is not in a financial position to undertake the proposed project, and has decided to defer the project in CTDOT’s Capital Plan 2019-2023,” according to the letter, confirming the state could not afford to make the project happen in the next few years.
The cost of the Barnum Avenue Railroad Station is around $300 million, an increase from the original estimate of $48 million. The increase was partially to accommodate Metro-North and Amtrak trains.
Currently, there are three train stations in Connecticut that have access to Metro-North and Amtrak trains — Bridgeport, Stamford and New Haven. The proposed additional Bridgeport station would make the fourth spot for a local and express railway service.
“The governor made a very strong statement the day he was inaugurated about investing in rail travel to improve Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure. We endorse this vision,” said a statement from Ganim. “The city and state have already invested millions to develop the area around the proposed Barnum Station in anticipation that this new station would be built.”
Ganim said he and Bridgeport State Legislators had a conference call with officials from Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration to reenforce the city’s commitment to the station.
“The East Side and other adjoining neighborhoods have gotten their hopes up about the possibility of a new rail station and are looking to us as leaders to make it happen,” Ganim said.
The Barnum Station was originally proposed in 2014 by then-Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
A federal grant originally awarded for the station in 2015 was rescinded at the end of 2016 by the Obama administration because the state was unable to pay the cost of designing and building the station, the mayor’s office said.
Ganim urged a reconsideration of the project, even if it meant bringing down the overall cost.
“We should explore all options that move the Barnum Station forward,” he said. “I look forward to meeting with our legislators and the Lamont administration to get this station back on track.”
“We understand the desire to advance the Barnum Station and will continue to work with the city and the General Assembly. As we set priorities for the next few years, all of our rail facilities will be evaluated for future enhancement,” said CTCOT Commissioner Joseph J. Giulietti in a prepared statement in the news release sent out by the mayor’s office.
Bridgeport State Legislative Delegation Chair Ezequiel Santiago gathered with various representatives to issue a statement that indicated the project should move forward after years of planning.
State Sen. Dennis Bradley, whose district covers parts of Stratford and Bridgeport, including where the proposed Barnum Station would stand, said in a prepared statement provided in the news release that the city needs this additional station.
“As the largest city in the state, we have a large amount of residents that need public transportation to provide for their families,” Bradley said. “We implore the governor and Department of Transportation to make this a shovel-ready project.”
And State Sen. Marilyn Moore reiterated Bradley’s point in her statement.
“I believe Bridgeport is an important component of this administration’s vision for high-speed travel in Connecticut,” she said. “The state delegation is eager to work together to include Bridgeport as a part of that vision.”
Staff Writer Jordan Grice contributed to this story.