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Amtrak To Put $130 Million Into Work On Connecticut Bridges

DON STACOM

March 27, 2009

Amtrak will pump about 10 percent of its entire $1.3 billion stimulus aid into repairing or replacing bridges along the eastern Connecticut shoreline.

Two weeks after announcing it would replace the century-old Niantic River drawbridge for $100 million, Amtrak said Thursday that it will spend another $35 million to rebuild or fix smaller bridges in Stonington, East Lyme and Madison.

"This project will not only create jobs in the local economy, but will also ensure the long-term viability of the Northeast Corridor," Amtrak President Joseph Boardman said in a statement.

Amtrak carried nearly 29 million passengers last year, and its Boston-Washington route which includes the shoreline tracks is among its most heavily used.

"We're going to see new jobs in the building and trades industry, and we're going to see finally an upgrade in our rail system so high-speed rail in the Northeast Corridor is going to be a reality," said U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District. "We've seen a rail system that over the last 50 years has been allowed to just completely decline."

Boardman said Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., played a key role in getting Amtrak's share of funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The perpetually cash-strapped Amtrak has postponed infrastructure maintenance across its system for years and plans to use the stimulus money to upgrade repair shops, rebuild out-of-service rail cars, renovate stations and improve signal systems.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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