CT: GOP Lawmakers: Railroaded on Train Station?

Sept. 04--BRIDGEPORT -- Critics like to complain about delays on Metro-North.

But the train operator has nothing on Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who is taking his time responding to questions from a pair of key legislators about his support for building an East End train station that would be Bridgeport's second.

"Why all the secrecy and how can questions respectfully asked of this administration go unanswered?" state Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, said Wednesday in a news release aimed at the Democratic governor.

Boucher and state Rep. David Scribner, R-Brookfield, the ranking Republicans on the Legislature's Transportation Committee, want Malloy to respond to their July 18 and Aug. 20 letters requesting more information on his decision to spend about $2.8 million to design a second Bridgeport train station.

The pair want to know more about the history of the proposal, how construction -- a feasibility study estimated the new station could cost $48 million -- will be funded, and whether that money should be used for other work.

"We have a number of 100-year-old railroad bridges in desperate need of repair," Boucher said. "Shouldn't they be fixed first?"

Malloy spokesman Andrew Doba on Wednesday gave no indication if or when the governor might write back.

"For a party that claims to be for investing in mass transit, they really seem to be opposed to having a second train station in Bridgeport," Doba said.

Malloy's GOP opponent, Tom Foley, has accused the governor of "handing out political largesse" to a Democratic city Malloy needs to win their potentially close race in November.

"This is a parcel of the city that has tremendous potential for redevelopment," Doba said. "The site has already been proven as a viable addition to the New Haven Line in a federally funded study. Why is it that Republicans can't bring themselves to support a project in Bridgeport?"

Malloy visited Bridgeport on July 16 to announce his commitment to trying to open the new station by 2018.

Though a priority for Mayor Bill Finch's administration, the news Malloy considered the station so as well caught Democratic and Republican state legislators involved in transportation by surprise.

Also disturbing, said Boucher and Scribner on Wednesday, was a recent Hearst Connecticut Media report that key officials within the state Department of Transportation were caught off guard.

"It is troubling that information about a major infrastructure change on our rail lines would be announced without informing the leaders of the state's Transportation Committee and with some apparent confusion within the walls of our very own Department of Transportation," Scribner said.

Second-station advocates have said DOT early on was not enthusiastic about the idea, so the Finch administration and business community had to engage in some heavy lobbying.

"If Bill Finch had not demonstrated leadership ... this would not be happening," said Joseph McGee, a vice president of the Business Council of Fairfield County.

State Rep. Tony Guerrera, D-Rocky Hill, a Transportation Committee chairman, in July said he too was in the dark about the governor's commitment to the Bridgeport station.

But Guerrera on Wednesday was not as upset as Boucher and Scribner. He said the transportation panel will take up the second train station in the 2015 legislative session.

"These are some of the advantages of being governor," Guerrera added. "You can announce funding."

Copyright 2014 - The Stamford Advocate, Conn.

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