With faster train ride from Danbury to New York, officials see ‘immense’ economic and regional opportunities

DANBURY – The first results of a study to create a faster train from Hat City to New York have reinvigorated local leaders who see the project as an economic boon to their communities.

“We are obviously excited about the possibility, not only of increasing the options in terms of public transport, but also of what this can do economically for the town of Danbury and the surrounding communities,” said said Sharon Calitro, urban planner.

The project would bring environmental benefits, improve the quality of life for commuters and have “great economic implications for many sub-micro-economies” along the railway line, said Vincent Tamagna, transport manager for Putnam County. , Ny

“There is so much at stake here,” he said.

The consulting firm studying the reopening of the Maybrook Line, also known as the Beacon Line, presented various options for connecting Danbury to Southeast Station, NY, allowing riders to take the Harlem Line to New York. . This would require the connection of the Beacon and Harlem lines.

Mayor Dean Esposito said he was impressed with the plans so far.

“They are on the right track to move the project forward,” he said.

What this means for Danbury

With this project, the city plans to create a transport hub through the station. This would mean moving the Kennedy Park bus stop closer to the station.

“It promotes our downtown in a way that hasn’t been since, I don’t know, the turn of the century to produce all kinds of different things,” said Roger Palanzo, chief of staff at mayor who, until recently, served as the city’s director of economic development.

Business and real estate owners are thrilled with the idea, he said.

“The regional opportunities are immense,” said Palanzo.

The study recommends reopening the old Union Station in Danbury, in addition to Patriot Drive Station, for the new line. Esposito agrees with this option as it would be the best way to connect passengers to the train station in Southeast New York State.

“I like it because it’s pretty much a straight route,” he said. “The rest, a lot of improvements had to be made … It was going to be more expensive, and you know what that means – more money and more time.”

Palanzo said use of the historic station will not affect the Danbury Railway Museum, which operates from there. The proposed platform would be a “separate structure” from the museum itself, he said.

Jose Alves, director of the Danbury Railway Museum, declined to comment because he had not seen the presentation, but said study organizers had not contacted museum volunteers.

Calitro noted the historic value of the station.

“I know the rail museum is there and it’s great, but it would be great to have more activities on a regular basis,” she said.

She said there were no surprises in the results. The study took note of neighborhoods and environmentally sensitive areas where a railway line could not pass.

“They did their due diligence in evaluating alternative routes to see how a connection could be made,” Calitro said.

The study suggests a potential station in the Danbury Fair and Western Connecticut State University areas. This excites Albert Salame, the developer behind Westconn Park, a “lifestyle hub” project with housing, commercial space and an assisted living facility on more than 30 acres off Mill Plain Road.

He said Mill Plain Road is a good place for the row because of its proximity to its development and the university.

“That’s basically where the beds are and where the people are and these are the people who are going to take the train,” Salame said.

Other benefits

According to the study, the various alternatives would significantly reduce “person miles traveled”, from 15,340 miles less in an option to 31,700 miles less in an idea. It’s “really, really amazing,” Tamagna said.

With the line, fewer cars would travel on Interstate-84, reducing congestion and reliance on fossil fuels, he said.

“That’s a lot of single occupant vehicles off the roads,” Calitro said. “It has advantages beyond the traffic. “

“It’s the air quality,” she added. “It’s the quality of life, the time”

The study offered some options for the type of rail service that would run on the line.

Tamagna said he wanted “what’s fastest and what’s convenient”.

“Every minute is precious,” he said. “We have moms and dads who have kids at home. They want to spend this quality time with them.

Calitro noted that the riders would have more options to return to Danbury.

Next steps

There is no fixed date for the opening of the line.

“It’s more than several years,” Tamagna said. “It’s a project that would take time to build.

The next part of the study is expected to be completed in the first six months of the new year, he said. Another presentation will ideally be held in person in February or March, he said.

“We need to take a closer look at the potential ridership and the environmental and community impacts, which is part of the next step,” Tamagna said.

Social justice and security issues must also be considered in the next step, he said.

Researchers are seeking public input. Comments can be emailed to [email protected]

“Right now, everyone is sharing their ideas of challenges and opportunities,” Tamagna said. “This is what we are really looking for.

There is interest and involvement from multiple entities and states in the project, Tamagna said, adding that he had received calls all the way to Massachusetts. Officials have said they hope the project can secure part of the $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure package the president signed in November.

“Now is the time to make that investment,” Tamagna said.