Past Public Information Meetings

Summary of Comments Received Final Draft Alternatives Summary Evaluation Report - Dec 2006

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Successful Public Information Meetings Held in Wilton and New Milford

More than 100 persons attended two public information meetings held on November 29 and December 1, 2005 to discuss the preferred alternatives for improving service on the New Haven Line’s Danbury Branch commuter rail line. The Danbury Branch Feasibility Study, which is being conducted by the Connecticut Department of Transportation, is examining ways of improving travel on the Danbury Branch commuter rail line. The objectives are to make the commuter line more attractive as an alternative to either driving on the congested Route 7 corridor or to commuting on Metro North’s Harlem Line in New York.

Danbury Branch Public Information Meeting On December 1, 2005 Drew. A Full House at the New Milford Rail Station to Discuss Improvement Options for the commuter rail service.

Five improvement alternatives were presented to the public at both public meetings. Those present were given the option to write comments and submit them that evening, or mail them to the study team. The public comment period will continue through December 22, 2005. The five proposed alternatives are:

Alternative A – No Build. No capital costs associated with this. Assumes no major new investments in the Danbury Branch Corridor other than what already has been approved or is required for regular maintenance.

Alternative B – Transportation System Management (TSM). No capital costs associated with this alternative. Includes everything that can be done without new construction or new vehicle procurement. Includes service improvements such as express or skip stop service.

Alternative C – Build Alternative, South Norwalk to Danbury Improvements. Includes minor alignment changes, addition/upgrade of Passing Sidings; installation of new electrification system between South Norwalk and Danbury; and use of Electric Multiple Unit Equipment. Costs range from $181 to $203 million.

Alternative D – Extension of Service to New Milford. Extends passenger service to New Milford, using a revised track alignment that improves maximum speed between Danbury and New Milford from 30 to 50 mph. Estimated capital cost is $30 to $36 million, plus $11 million for equipment per new train set required.

Alternative E – Transportation Strategy Board (TSB) recommended Partial Electrification from South Norwalk to vicinity of Route 15. This TSB recommendation would partially electrify the branch from South Norwalk to vicinity of the the Merritt Parkway, with feeder bus/rail service to complement the new service.

At the Public Information Meeting in Wilton on November 29, 2005, approximately 40 persons attended. Those in attendance were supportive of looking at long range alternatives to improving the branch, such as electrification and addition of passing sidings. However, there was a general concern expressed regarding current service levels and length of travel time for existing commuters to Manhattan. Many of those present asked for ways to improve travel times now and increase frequency of direct service to
Grand Central Terminal from the Branch. The request was for improvements in the short term to the Branch that would provide commuters more options to travel to and from Grand Central Terminal.

At the New Milford Public Information Meeting on December 1, 2005, more than 60 persons attended. The majority of those in attendance expressed support for the extension of service to New Milford. New Milford Mayor Pat Murphy expressed concern that new rail service might bring additional crime to the rail station area. Study representatives pointed out that the use of Transit Oriented Development planning could accompany any new stations and attendees noted potential for development due to rail service. It was also pointed out that studies have shown no connection between an increase in crime and the addition of new commuter rail service.

More than 25 comment forms or emails have been received since the public information meetings were advertised in November. The majority of comments turned in either express support for extension of commuter rail service to New Milford (Alternative D), or, on the contrary, would prefer that the focus of improvements be on the existing branch service between South Norwalk and Danbury by reducing stops, improving travel times, or adopting Alternative C (electrification, passing sidings, alignment improvements).

Following the close of the comment period on December 22, the Study Team will provide the DOT with a comprehensive summary of all comments (no. received, alternatives supported, etc.).

The first public information meetings were held in the fall of 2003, where the various options considered for improving rail service on the Branch were presented. These meetings were held on September 30th and October 2nd, in Ridgefield and Norwalk, respectfully, from 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Pictures from our Open House meetings in Ridgefield, September 30th and Norwalk, October 2, 2003