– Kelly Kennedy
US Senator Chris Dodd and US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood made a special appearance at Connecticut’s capitol this morning to discuss the future of the rail corridor connecting New Haven, Hartford and Springfield, MA.
Along with Governor Rell, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Congressman John Larson, Connecticut Commissioner of Transportation Joe Marie, and Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Jeff Mullan, Dodd and LaHood rode the Amtrak shuttle along part of the proposed rail line from New Haven to Hartford.
Asked by one reporter what his presence in Connecticut signified, LaHood stated that
“Connecticut has its act together. This corridor has its act together. I can’t say that everywhere I go.”
- US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood
Much of the officials’ remarks at the morning press conference emphasized the role that the high speed rail line will play in moving people and products in a more competitive regional economy. “Connecticut will contribute its fair share” toward making it happen, in proportion to the benefits it will receive, said DOT Commissioner Joseph Marie.
With other states in the region, Connecticut will compete for a piece of the next round of stimulus funding for transportation, which is $2.5 billion in 2010. The Obama administration has proposed, but Congress has not yet approved, an additional $1 billion for transportation funding for 2011.
Dodd is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, which has jurisdiction over public transportation. According to Dodd’s office, Dodd, LaHood and state officials have been working together to deliver federal funds to Connecticut to complete the Tri-City Corridor, which would establish both faster, more frequent intercity and commuter rail service connecting New Haven, Hartford, and Springfield, providing residents of central Connecticut with better access to New York City, western Massachusetts, Vermont and eventually Boston.