$750,000 would go toward Niantic train station plan
The state is expected to fund $750,000 for a commuter rail station in Niantic, as part of a bonding proposal from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
Rep. Ed Jutila, D-East Lyme, announced in a news release Wednesday that the funding he requested — after approval from the General Assembly — would help pay for environmental permitting, rail track configuration based on capacity analysis and some initial design work. He said those items are the “required next steps” following a 2012 Department of Transportation feasibility study for which he had sponsored legislation.
“I am delighted to see that Governor Malloy recognized the value of a rail station in Niantic that will serve to remove additional traffic from I-95, promote further economic development and draw more visitors to the many downtown Niantic businesses and other attractions,” Jutila said in a statement.
Malloy is submitting a bonding bill that includes, among other projects, an estimated $750,000 for the train station, to the Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee, Jutila said in a phone interview Wednesday. The overall cost to build a new train station, including a parking lot, is projected at $30 million, he said.
“It’s good that we got some recognition and attention,” said Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, referencing a bill he proposed that would require construction of the station.
Formica said he agreed with Jutila that the new station would be a boon to the region. He called the Niantic area the “gateway to Mystic Country.”
Jutila, a member of the transportation committee, said in the release that town and state officials and local advocates have worked for years to try to bring a Shore Line East train station to Niantic.
A specific location for a potential station has yet to be announced.
Malloy’s 30-year transportation plan includes extending the Shore Line East rail service from New London to Westerly at a cost of $200 million.
East Lyme First Selectman Mark Nickerson said a train stop — which had existed in Niantic until the 1970s — could boost the town’s tax base, commercial enterprises and downtown area.
“I think a lot of people come into Niantic for the charm, the beaches and the boardwalk,” he said.
A train stop could cut down on vehicle traffic by enabling people to arrive downtown by train and then walk to the beach, shops and other attractions, he said. In addition, the stop could enable town residents, who now drive to the Old Saybrook train station, to commute solely by rail.
“What we’ve been looking for is to start the conversation and put this on the map,” said Nickerson, who praised Formica for championing the station for several years.
Day Staff Writer Tess Townsend contributed to this article.
Twitter: @Kimberly Drelich