As published in the Record Journal Thursday July 11, 2013
HARTFORD (AP) — The U.S. Department of Transportation has rejected a request by the state to streamline the paperwork for a multimillion-dollar high-speed rail project.
Transportation Deputy Secretary John Porcari told U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty at a congressional hearing on Tuesday that state transportation officials must keep three grants separate for the $365 million rail line from New Haven to Springfield, Mass. The federal portion is about $191 million, and the state has committed about $175 million.
Porcari said audit requirements rule out combining money from separate grants.
“We have been very scrupulous and careful about that,” he said.
The manager of the 62-mile rail project, John Bernick, said in an interview Wednesday that Connecticut hoped to establish one fund that would consolidate money earmarked for numerous transactions such as paying workers and buying material and equipment. He said tapping three accounts is a “bit of an administrative nightmare.”
“It would have given us a lot more flexibility if it were one grant, but the project marches on,” he said.
Work has been divided into three phases. One stage is north of Hartford, including a Windsor-to-Springfield route.
The second phase is a 10-mile stretch between Meriden and Newington, and the third stage is south of Hartford to New Haven, Bernick said.
The project calls for additional double track, sidings, signaling and control systems and repair and replacement of bridges and culverts.
Final designs are being drafted, and fiber optic cables have been installed.
Construction is expected to begin next summer, and the project should be completed by late 2016.
The new service will connect with Metro-North Railroad commuter rail and Amtrak Acela high-speed rail service on the New Haven Line to New York and on the Northeast Corridor to New London and Boston.
The project calls for service every 30 minutes during peak periods and every 60 minutes at other times. Speeds would reach up to 110 mph.