Hearing Held On Hartford, New Britain Busway Proposal
May 21, 2009
WEST HARTFORD - — The Elmwood section would benefit from having two of the 11 stations of a $570 million express busway the state wants to build linking Hartford and New Britain, a town official said Wednesday.
The stations, on New Park Avenue at Flatbush and New Britain avenues, would be used by some of the estimated 15,000 people expected to ride some or all of the 9.6 mile busway once it opens in 2014.
That exposure should generate more interest in Elmwood, an older neighborhood that's seen an economic rebirth and has had several restaurants and stores open in the past few years, Rob Rowlson, the town's interim community services director, said after a state hearing on the project.
The busway, proposed in the late 1990s to ease congestion on central Connecticut highways, would have buses running regular routes on a buses-only roadway that would be built along old rail lines, state officials said at the hearing in the Elmwood Community Center.
"Stops will be about a mile apart, more like light rail than a local bus," Michael Sanders, the state's Transit and Ride-sharing administrator told the 40 people at the hearing. "Think of it like a train, but on rubber wheels."
Bus routes linking nearby town and cities to the busway would feed riders to the new express service, giving commuters an easier way to get to Hartford, Sanders said.
People at the hearing — the second this week about the project — asked about security at the stations, wondered who would maintain the busway and questioned the push to use buses rather than build light rail.
Fisher said buses would be half the cost of a rail line and one-fifth the expense of widening a highway to accommodate more cars. The state would maintain the stations and provide security for riders, he said.
Plans are being completed, right of ways being bought and federal officials have said the state can apply for grants to cover much of the expense. Construction should begin in 2012.
Mary Murray of West Hartford, a member of the town's League of Women Voters, was there with another group representative to learn more about the project.
"The League is interested in regionalization, ways that towns and cities can work together. We see this project as one aspect of that approach," Murray said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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