Saturday, April 15, 2006

My First Post and Fairfield Train Station

GC suggested that our first post be an introduction. I'm not sure what to say about myself really. Most of you probably already know me from the comments section here, or my own blog which is linked over on the right. Rather than talk about me, I'd like to start a discussion about mass transit, in particular commuter rails.

It seems that Fairfield Metro Center has cleared it's final hurdle.

FAIRFIELD Plans for the town's third railroad station, proposed as part of a massive commercial development off lower Black Rock Turnpike, have a clear track after winning final approval Thursday from state traffic officials.

The State Traffic Commission approval for the project, to be called Fairfield Metro Center, marks the end of a five-year planning and permit process through local and state agencies.

The construction of Fairfield Metro has often been a subject of debate here at CLP. As someone who lives practically next door to the current one I'm happy to see the project go forward. Fairfield really does have a large enough population to support another station, and I'm hoping that when it's finished it will help the traffic situation on Post and Mill Plain Roads. However, if I lived near the site I'm sure that I'd feel the exact opposite way. More than two years of construction, followed by an increase in traffic would probably annoy me.

Based on what I've read at CLP, I'd say that transportation will be a big issue in the Governor's race. On Monday night I was able to hear Mayor DeStefano speak at the Fairfield DTC meeting. He put a lot of emphasis on rail lines as a reliable way to transport goods and commuters, and the importance of maintaining them. After listening to DeStefano speak I realized how little I actually knew about mass transit beyond my own backyard. I have a pretty good idea of what the major transportation issues are in Fairfield County, but will admit to complete ignorance when it comes to the rest of the state.

Back in January GC posted about Rell's transit proposal for Central Connecticut. The discussion about transit and traffic that followed brought up several concerns from around the state. My question is how will your concerns about mass transit affect your vote for Governor, State Senator, and Representative this year? What do you think the candidates should be talking about in regards to transit?


Reilly, Genevive. "With final OK, Fairfield rail station on express line". Connecticut Post, 14 April, 2006.


mmmmmmmm said...

A few details you leave out, and the list is by no meams complete if you go back to earlier posts:
1. the so-called train station provides parking for 1500 cars but it is also an office park with 1 million square feet and over 2000 parking spaces. That is why it was deemed to be a 'major traffic generator' by the STC
2. in order to get approval from the Conservation Commission to leave the industrial tailings under the parking lot the attorney scared the commision by saying that complete removal would cost 250 million dollars when in fact the developer and Flatto ar now admitting it would be 10% of that.
3. the height and density of the building was specially approved for the developer who has contributed heavily to politicos both parties and Shays as well.
4. the developer got a $4million dollar loan from the state that must be repaid not by the developer but by the town of fairfield as thay collect taxes from the developer.
Basically, the people that approved this were almost to a person dumber than a stump.

mmmmmmmm said...

And I almost forgot any representation about it helping traffic on the Post Road or Mill Plain Road is a big lie. There is no logical reason to think it would but few pople that run for office in fairfield are logical.

stomv said...

As a current Bostonian who grew up in Connecticut, I'd love to see CT (and NY) improve the Acela line between New Haven and New Rochelle. That's the slowest part of the entire line, and a combination of regulation revision and track improvements are necessary to fix the area.

Wiki article on Acela.

Why would it be good for CT? With Acela stations in New London, New Haven, and Stamford, improving the line will help remove some of the congestion along 95 (and to a lesser extent, 84 and 91) and the rest of Fairfield County, and reduce travel time for all the Nutmeggers who use (or might start using) Acela to travel.

So, how about it, CT? Hows about improving the nations best rail service? Making Acela a better choice for more people will reduce traffic, and maybe even help in a push to extend it past DC southerly (like, to Atlanta via VA, RTP, and Charlotte).

cgg said...

Actually the traffic was more my own prediction. I'm a non-driver who is often walking around town during rush hour. At those times of day, traffic around the station is intense, and I think diverting more people to the new station might improve that situation. Emphasis on the word might.

As for the developer, well I'm not a fan of Fairfield Retail Partners LLC either. They seem determined to turn Downtown into a giant strip mall. That's another post entirely though, and I avoided bringing them up for that reason.

DeanFan84 said...

Varibale Rate Tolls--
If you want to solve the congestion in Fairfield County, make it fairly expensive for solo drivers to get onto I-95 during peak hours. Make it free for cars with three or more occupants, almost free for two occupants, and unfriendly for solo drivers.

If you increase the occupancy of your average car, you effectively increase I-95's capacity, without widening the highway.

Gabe said...

Let me throw out a suggestion for improving the crawl on 95 during rush hour (I spent 4 years commuting from the New Haven area to Norwalk):

Less Exits. People use 95 (instead of local streets) to get to work in Stamford when they live in Darien or to get to Norwalk when they live in Westport. This wouldn't happen if the only exits were in B-Port, Fairfield, Norwalk, and Stamford (think the Mass Pike from Springfield to Albany).

Of course those cars have to go somewhere, so a large scale improvement in both mass transit and the the capacity of 95 and 15 (and 91 and 84, etc.) are also necessary. But it would be a start.

pissedoffinfairfield said...

If you walk around town you may wish to not frequent Fairfield Center Jewelers and you may never aagin want to vote for Flatto since both siad publicly along with others that the train staion would fix congestion in Fairfield Center. Cars are not going to be diverted anywhere if you think about it logically. If you are on the DTC you probably know Walter Flynn of the Board of Finance who led the charge to cut long time faithful public servant Conservation Director Steinke's salary just around the time he questioned this deal. Vince Cuomo and Dick Saxl were not real happy about that so a backromm message was worked out and Steinke cahnge his tune.

As for the approvals from Hartford, they were always in the bag because McKinney, like Flatto, has been emblazing this on his resume for some time. The State Traffic Commission is nothing but three people who work directly for Rell - and were even part of marco Polo. When it comes to likening this to Kelo in New London, both McKinney and his pal, Chris Shays, deny it.

pissedoffinfairfield said...

This link from the Southwestern Regional Planning Agency Congestion Mitigation Plan suggests exactly what Gabe does but nobody pays attention to it because it doesn't help developers and contractors make money that they can give to the politicians.

Sorry I am new at this.

pissedoffinfairfield said...

CGG said "As for the developer, well I'm not a fan of Fairfield Retail Partners LLC either. They seem determined to turn Downtown into a giant strip mall. That's another post entirely though, and I avoided bringing them up for that reason." but it is not a seperate post at all since it all goes together. A lot of people remeber this guy Wittek when he was ahnging at the bars before he went to jail. This time he's still swindling but apparently not breaking the law.

goodbye said...

"I'm a non-driver who is often walking around town during rush hour. At those times of day, traffic around the station is intense, and I think diverting more people to the new station might improve that situation." says CGG. Do you really think all that traffic is people going to and from the train station? It's certainly not my experience and I spend a fair amount of time downtown.

Gabe talks about how he used to drive from New Haven to Norwalk for work. I am going to guess he did that (drive) becuase mass transit was neither near his deatination nor his origination. People who think they can fix the transit problems without adding tolls and closing interchanges, and Fairfield has more per mile than most anybody, and straightening out the traffic situation on the Post Road are delusional like our state reps from both parties.

goodbye said...

Speaking of delusional state reps, I see you now have Chris DeSanctis on the list for the 132nd against Tom Drewbut you do not have a link to his web so here it is. Neither of them have any talent to tackle CT's key problems but at least your list will be up tp date.

cgg said...

Wow. I wasn't expecting so many comments, especially on a Saturday. This is great.

Red October, I have to walk past both entrances to the train to get to Post. Usually I do this at least twice a day, sometimes more. At certain times of the day that whole area becomes a parking lot primarily because of people entering or leaving the station. The exit from I-95 doesn't help either, but yes I think the train station plays a major role in that congestion.

I won't even begin to pretend that I know everything there is to know about this. It's actually part of the reason that I made transportation my first post here. Every time it comes up, I learn. And as I said before, I really do see transit being a hot button issue in this election year.

Gabe said...

Red October - For 2 1/2 years (-ish), the place where I worked was not near the Norwalk train station and my boss did nothing to encourage commuting via mass transit, making it impossible to get there without driving.

For the next 1 1/2 years (-ish), the company I worked for had a shuttle service from the train station, but I discovered that there is a waiting list to get a monthly parking pass at the New Haven station that is measured in geologic eras.

Even with a monthly pass, however, the cost of parking and a monthly train ticket were more expensive than driving (given recent gas prices, I'm not sure that is still the case). The Southwestern Regional Planning Agency Congestion Mitigation Plan (linked above by pissedoffinfairfield) suggests making intrastate train riding more accessable and affordable by discounting tickets and discounting and expanding parking facilities. I agree (although I have no idea how the Stamford parking lot got on their "bad" list when I have never had trouble finding a spot and the New Haven lot, which is routinely filled by 7AM, didnot).

goodbye said...

Agreed, but what makes you think another train station will fix that? The people will still be going to the train station at the same time as today and Ken Flatto opposes closing any interchanges whatsoever on I-95; not that I propose that the Mill Plain one be closed in its entirety anyway.

goodbye said...

Gabe: I was posting while you were; I think you see my point with where you worked at first in Norwalk not being anywhere near a train station - people will only change their 'mode' of transportation so many times during a particular trip based usually on cost and door-to-door travel time.

On the parking situation, I can only guess the Stamford Station was 'bad' at the time of the 2020 study because I know it's a few years old; on the New Haven Station it may be because te SWRPA only covers Greewich to Westport.

The train station in Fairfield has plenty of room for a deck to increase parking by maybe 80%. The so-called parking lot CGG talks about has to do with poor roadway design and its like that at times when nobody is going in and out of the station.

goodbye said...

But CGG said My question is how will your concerns about mass transit affect your vote for Governor, State Senator, and Representative this year? What do you think the candidates should be talking about in regards to transit? so I should answer. I won't vote for anybody stupid enough to think that building a train station that is supposed to get cars off the road and then building a one million square foot office park next to it to put on cars on the road is a wise expenditure of government money; so I won't be voting for McKinney or Drew just as I didn't vote for them two years ago and I probably won't vote for DeSanctis either because I now see a picture of McKinney and Dickman and Stone and Tyminiak with him on the referenced above campaign web. I won't vote for DeStefano because he accepted an endorsement from Flatto who is just as stupid. And Drew endorsed Malloy so I can't vote for Malloy either. And Rell is signing the checks from this remnant of Rowlandnomics. As far as what thy should be talking about; I think first they should seek treatment for their delusional thinking and spending.

stomv said...

A general comment about parking lots at commuter hubs like train stations:

If you expand the parking, you also increase the traffic, particularly at peak times. The question becomes: can the local roads handle the increased traffic? There's nothing worse than waiting 2 or 3 (or more!) light cycles at the same light.

Best case scenario: access directly to and from a highway to the train station parking lot, complete with it's own exit/entrance only to/from the highway (to prevent people using the exit to cut through the station). As long as the buffer lane for the exit is long enough to handle a backflow of traffic, this solution allows for expanding parking without swamping local roads.

I have no idea if any of the train stations in question are near enough a highway to pull this off; that being said, the next station planned should take this into consideration.

goodbye said...

stomv:The train station being planned that CGG rports on in the post includes a commerce park of one million square feet so you can figure that's why I think the politicians are a bunch of idiots. The train station already in Fairfield a few miles to the west that CGG walks by several times a day can be fixed and even be decked to add capacity and the corresponding roadways reconfigured quite easily as you suggest to reduce the 'peak short term' load but rational stuff doesn't happen in Fairfield or CT becase of political idiots aforementioned - the economic development guy that pushed this is a watchmaker from Bridgeport who lied through his teeth along with everybody else.

goodbye said...

The important thing is that the state is helping someone who was once in trouble to rehabilitate himself as you can see from this old link to the Fairfield County Business Journal and this more recent oneas well. There is hope for John Rowland too in that he should qualify for a CDA loan soon. Leopards can change their spots and let's hope to hell this one has.

goodbye said...

You Fairfielders are all wasting your time opposing this but it does feel good to read what you write. It will either fall through because Wittek blew away all the money or more likely it will just take a long time to get somewhere if ever. Remember, it's a ConnDOT project.

bluecoat said...

Train station derails businessman
Here's the link to the saturday CT Post article jus to keep the saga of how ConnDOT works or doesn't work on eminent domain.