Rail hearing in Enfield evokes strong emotions

  • Updated: June 15, 2012 at 1:20 PM by Zachary Janowski

Enfield – The Connecticut Department of Transportation received generally positive feedback from nearly 60 attendees at a public hearing Wednesday, but some proposed station locations prompted dissent.

Mark Alexander, DOT transportation assistant planning director, said most of the comments received by DOT about the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Rail Project have been positive.

“It’s about time,” said one project supporter from Suffield.

Many town officials who attended the meeting thanked the DOT for moving ahead with the project.

Windsor Locks First Selectman Steve Wawruck said he supported efforts to move the platform back to the center of town, stating that it would be an opportunity to “reenergize” the town’s Main Street.

According to DOT estimates, an average of 99 people will ride each of the 70 trains that will run when the line reaches full capacity. In other words, one out of every 1,000 Connecticut residents is expected to commute on the $647 million rail line.

Martha Klein, whose family owns Standard Paper Company and Party Shop in Hartford, said that the current location of the West Hartford Flatbush Avenue station plans would have a negative effect on her family’s store.

Klein said that the department has not “taken the concerns of the public into account.”

She said her family’s store is labeled “out of business” by the DOT and the station is set to be built on its current location. Klein said she blamed the state’s “arrogance” and “lack of planning.”

“I’m really disappointed. I want the rail to succeed,” said Klein, but she said the location for the station is “obliterating Hartford businesses with sheer arrogance.”

Other Connecticut residents said they would like to see some station locations moved because of “heavier traffic” or more “economic vitality.”

About 12 people commented at the hearing held at Asnuntuck Community College.

There will be one more hearing at 7 p.m. Friday, June 14, at North Haven High School.

Caitlin Landers is a journalism intern at the Yankee Institute. She is a rising junior at Syracuse University studying broadcast digital journalism and international relations. She lives in Manchester.

Correction: The last public hearing on the NHHS project was Thursday, June 14.