CT Progressive Democrat

News and Views from CT State Representative David McCluskey / Democrat - West Hartford

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Amtrak Next-Gen High Speed Rail Vision for Connecticut

Yesterday, Amtrak revealed its new 40 year plan for High-Speed Rail in the Northeast Corridor. The goal is to achieve sustained speeds of 220 miles an hour with a three hour trip time between Boston and Washington, DC.

To accomplish this, Amtrak proposes new dedicated high-speed rail alignments and equipment. For the segment from New York City to Boston, the route featured in the report is NYC to Danbury, Waterbury, Hartford through Rhode Island.

This route was analyzed because MetroNorth's New Haven Line between New Rochelle and New Haven has capacity constraints and the Amtrak-owned, Shore Line Route from New Haven to Rhode Island has curvature restrictions (which slows down trains) and design requirements to meet environmental concerns. The environmental concerns are not elaborated in the report, but some must involve the multiple river crossings/bridges along the route.

In the report, Amtrak details the economic value of Next-Gen High-Speed Rail for Hartford. It estimates that such service would provide travel times between Hartford and NYC that are comparable to what Stamford currently enjoys. The population and jobs within 90 minutes travel of such service would be 4 to 5 times higher than Hartford's current transportation network.

You can access the report by going to www.amtrak.com, going to Inside Amtrak and then click on Reports and Documents.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Trooper's Funeral

I attended the funeral services for Trooper First Class Kenneth Hall outside the State Armory in Hartford two weeks ago.

Of course, there was a lot of media coverage - video, photos and lots of text. But, for me, there was something visceral and substantive that was not focused on by the media - the Silence shown for this police officer who most of us - including me - never knew.

In this age of incessant chatter & connectivity, most of the police officers and the public who were outside awaiting the Funeral motorcade spoke quietly and infrequently. Cell phones, those ubiquitous devices, were used at a minimum. Most of the officers stood quietly and at attention. Of course, there was not complete silence - the Armory is near I-84 and several trains ran behind the building during the gathering. But I was struck on this day how truly loud & powerful a symbol Silence is in this day and age. The police and the public knew how important it was to focus on the sacrifice made by Trooper Hall despite all the other stimula and activity that go on in our lives. It may not be an expensive gift in dollar amount, but I believe the quiet and dignity shown on behalf of Trooper Hall was indeed an enormous display of respect and gratitude by those in attendance. The Silence spoke volumes.