State representative Gail Lavielle (R-143) has introduced a bill to upgrade the Danbury Branch Line of Metro-North. The bill doesn’t ask for new funding; instead it calls for reallocating already-authorized bonds to make improvements. She’s urging commuters to submit testimony in time for a public hearing tomorrow, Friday, Feb. 24, on the legislation.
The bill–HB 6553–would reallocate already authorized bonds for transportation infrastructure projects. Lavielle has introduced it with a group of eleven other state House members–both Republicans and Democrats–who represent towns on and near the Danbury line.
“Commuting on the Danbury Branch Line has long been a frustrating experience at best, and an ordeal at worst, for many commuters. While there are numerous issues with the service, the main concerns I hear about are frequency and reliability. I’ve ridden the trains with them, I’ve heard from them, and I know they mean business,” Lavielle says.
She’s hoping those passengers will channel that frustration and let members of the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee hear that testimony in time for Friday’s hearing on HB 6553, which begins at 11 a.m..
Lavielle has taken a different approach to try and secure the funding.
“Given the state’s precarious financial situation, we feel that it is unlikely that any bill requesting the $400 million or more necessary for the full electrification of the branch line would be passed this year. So we are trying to identify other less extensive measures that could improve service in cost-effective ways. We have been meeting with the DOT and the governor’s staff to explore these possibilities.”
The language of the bill does not specify upgrades or costs, and Lavielle is hoping commuters on the line will offer their input about what is important to them.
Anyone wishing to testify in person can attend the hearing in Room 2E of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. But knowing that it’s not convenient for most Fairfield County commuters to attend a public hearing in Hartford, Lavielle suggests that interested residents submit written testimony by email. Testimony must refer to HB 6553 in the subject line and in the testimony, and residents must include their name and town. There is no limit on length for written testimony.
Lavielle says to copy her on any testimony submitted as well at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Any questions or comments can be directed to Lavielle’s office by email or by calling 860.240.1423.
Lavielle represents the 143rd district, which includes parts of Norwalk, Westport, and Wilton. She is Ranking Member of the General Assembly’s Education Committee and a member of the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee and the Transportation Committee.