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Thursday, June 21 Opinion

Op-ed: Cutting branch line ‘counterproductive’

An open letter to Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker:

While we understand that the intent of the Department of Transportation curtailment in branch line train service is an attempt to address the dire financial condition our state is confronting, we believe that this proposed action will be counterproductive and will result in significant negative impacts to our communities and the broader region. Suspending New Canaan branch line service as proposed by the DOT will have an immediate adverse impact on the economies of our communities.

The DOT must recognize that our workforce does not conform to a historic Monday through Friday work model and now relies on branch rail service for weekend commuting to work as well. Failure to provide reliable commuter rail service will result in increased traffic congestion during periods when our region already experiences record high traffic volumes.

Furthermore, during a period when our home values have stagnated and the rate of home sales have declined, the proposed service reductions will exacerbate our housing market challenges. Reliable, safe rail service is a key selling point for many prospective new home buyers.

Finally, we would propose that the right response to the economic condition our state finds itself in is not to contract and reduce rail service in growth regions of the state, where services should be expanded, and encourage more people to choose public transportation over increasing congestion on our highways.

Simply put, let’s not enter an endless negative spiral. The answer for our state is that we must grow our way out of the situation we find ourselves in. We must make bold moves and set priorities to stay competitive with cities and towns we compete with in the tri-state region by offering residents the services they need and demand.

Stamford Mayor David Martin, New Canaan First Selectman Kevin Moynihan and Darien First Selectman Jayme Stevenson.

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