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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Fighting Infrastructure Improvements

Last fall, the Department of Transportation acting through the Federal Railway Administration released a report proposing upgrades to the train system in the northeast corridor.  There were a bunch of changes/upgrades proposed to the passenger rail lines in the region.  The three biggest were 1) a new line that went north through Hartford and on to Springfield, Massachusetts, 2) a new line that took the trains to Philadelphia International Airport with a station there, and 3) a bypass of the old, curvy tracks in southeaster Connecticut.  Yesterday, the FRA reiterated that plan, and today the various political forces in Connecticut announced opposition to the third item.  Our state governor as well as our two US senators and some congressmen announced their opposition.  All are Democrats.

Consider the merits of this third item.  Along the eastern portion of the shore on Long Island Sound, the old train lines run very close to the water, so they are subject to flooding in storms.  They have a great many grade crossing which are dangerous and slow the speed at which trains can travel.  The lines are also filled with curves that slow the speed of the trains.  The plan is to move the tracks inland a bit so that they run alongside I-95 and to make them straight with no grade crossings.  It would cut substantial time off a trip through the region.  There would still be a station in New London which means no change in that regard.  But here's the key for the politicians:  moving the line would take it close to new properties that don't want the railroad there.  And there's also the increased cost.

This rail line is what I like to call a Democrat infrastructure project.  First it gets proposed, and then it gets blocked because a bunch of rich people don't want the project near their homes.  There's a lot of talk, but there's never any action.

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