WNPR

Officials Highlight Regional Rail Line in Massachusetts and Connecticut

Dec 8, 2014

Massachusetts and Connecticut officials are riding the rails on Monday to highlight upgrades in the so-called "knowledge corridor" through southern New England. 

Monday's trip began in New Haven, where the Massachusetts delegation, led by U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, toured Union Station with U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut.

In New Haven, officials included New Haven official David Panagore, who once headed economic development in Springfield. From a report at MassLive.com:

Neal's office organized the trip Monday to both New Haven and Hartford to get Pioneer Valley officials a taste of what transit-oriented development can look like. They met with New Haven officials like David B. Panagore, onetime head of economic development in Springfield. He said people will use Union Station to access Springfield and points north.

"We are your front door. That's the same way Springfield is our front door to the north. But if our station is crap, no one is going to want to take the left turn," Panagore said, stressing the importance of the connection between cities along the line.

Springfield visitors also heard about New Haven's frustrations, including a lack of viable retail in its station. The problem, Panagore said, is that the station required 30-year leases and didn't give New Haven officials the ability to go out and court local retailers.

"Here we are in New Haven, the home of the greatest pizza in the world," Panagore said. "And we have a Sbarro's here in the station."

The delegation then traveled by train to Hartford, where it was joined by U.S. Rep. John Larson and Connecticut transportation commissioner James Redeker.

The trip concluded with a news conference at Springfield's Union Station, which is currently undergoing an $82 million renovation.

Neal said in a statement that $73 million in federal stimulus funds were spent since 2009 to revitalize the regional rail line that runs parallel to Interstate 91.

This report includes information from The Associated Press.