Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim and the state legislators representing the city are pushing back against a decision by the Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT) to defer plans for a new high-speed Barnum Avenue Rail Station on the city’s East Side.
Earlier this week, the DOT informed the Council on Environmental Quality that the project was being put on indefinite hold due to a lack of funds. The station, which would be between Seaview Avenue and Pembroke Street and serve both Amtrak and Metro-North, was first proposed in 2014 with a $48 million budget, but is now carrying an anticipated price tag of $300 million.
“We understand the desire to advance the Barnum Station and will continue to work with the city and the General Assembly,” CTDOT Commissioner Joseph J. Giulietti said. “As we set priorities for the next few years, all of our rail facilities will be evaluated for future enhancement.”
However, Ganim argued that the postponement of the station creates a major problem for plans to improve the infrastructure on the East Side.
“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. “Major, new mixed-income housing developments have been constructed nearby. We are preparing to clear a massive former industrial complex and remediate brownfields just across the street so new transit-oriented developments can move in.
“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.
State Sen. Marilyn Moore, who announced her candidacy for Bridgeport’s mayoralty earlier this week, noted that Gov. Ned Lamont made upgraded rail travel a key factor in his election campaign.
“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.”
Rep. Christopher Rosario added on his Facebook page that the city’s elected officials will not be taking “no” for an answer from the DOT.
“I don’t care if it’s the last thing I do,” he wrote online. “This will happen!”