WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — They’ve been working on the railroad. Senator Richard Blumenthal and Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary teaming up today at the Waterbury rail line stop to get the public and members of Congress on board a proposed $85 million transportation trust fund.
“This trust fund would be a secure, stable, reliable source of funding for lines like Waterbury because we need to improve the rail, the number of cars, the time of the trip. We could double the number of trips, by investing in this line,” Sen. Blumenthal said. “$85 million in The American Jobs Plan is what President Biden’s proposed and that would enable better rail, more cars, quicker, more reliable, more comfortable service.”
The rail line has been dogged by delays in the past. Governor Lamont earmarked $116 million in his proposed budget that would increase the number of cars on the Waterbury line from 15 to 22.
“What the senator is talking about is even more significant because as you know the Connecticut Transportation Fund has been challenged to fund appropriately to take care of the rail lines,” Mayor O’Leary said. “The last time we increased the number of cars, ridership was up 300 percent.
The mayor also told News 8 cities and towns along the rail line from Waterbury to Bridgeport would experience more jobs and economic growth. For instance, both Naugatuck and Ansonia have development projects in the works along the line.
“If the senator is successful and city planners, developers, investors know that money will be earmarked each and every year towards the improvement of all rail lines but in particular, this rail line, you will see an explosion of development,” said Mayor O’Leary.
There are critics who are not on board with using all that money for this. News 8 asked Sen. Blumenthal for his response to those critics.
“It’s not just throwing money at the rail system,” he said. “It’s an investment.”