Amtrak, Connecticut reach funding agreement on Hartford Line commuter-rail service

Amtrak and the state of Connecticut have reached an agreement spelling out cost ceilings and a timeline for completing the Hartford Line commuter-rail route, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy announced late last week.

Connecticut’s State Bond Commission this week will vote to approve an allocation of $155 million to complete construction of the future Hartford Line, according to a press release issued by Malloy’s office. For its part, Amtrak will deliver service with a ceiling on costs and a timetable for wrapping up the project.

The bond commission’s approval will bring the total funding for programs in this corridor to $643 million, with $208 million in federal funds and $435 million in state funds, Malloy’s press release said. The cost for upgrading the Hartford Line is $570 million.

Now in the construction phase, the completed Hartford Line is expected to triple the number of trains between New Haven and Hartford, and double the service between Hartford and Springfield.

Four station projects are underway and due to be completed prior to the launch of service, while critical fiber optic signal cable and communication nodes are installed along the corridor to power the system and its positive train control components.

Each weekend, centuries-old and undersized culverts and drainage structures are being replaced. The roadbed is currently being excavated for a second track.

“Instead of letting this languish for years and years, we are stepping up to the plate as a state to stand up for better transportation, more jobs, and economic development. This is a transformative project — and we have a commitment to get it done,” said Malloy, adding that communities to be served by the line are planning transit-oriented development projects around their stations.

An additional $73 million is being spent on related corridor investments, including adding a platform at the State Street station in New Haven, renovations at the Berlin station, continuing the design of five new stations along the corridor and studying the realignment of the line in Hartford as part of the overall Interstate-84 viaduct alternatives.

Construction on the future Hartford Line will extend into late 2017, with a service launch no later than January 2018, Malloy’s press release said.

The line will run along the Interstate-91 Corridor to connect New Haven, Conn.; Hartford, Conn.; and Springfield, Mass.

NYC transit: Best and worst moments in 2015, according to the Straphangers Campaign

This year, subway riders saw their fares hiked, worse service, and a record number of people cramming into trains, a riders’ advocacy group says in a new report.

On the bright side, the MTA, Gov. Cuomo, and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration also agreed in 2015 to spend $29 billion on the transit system over five years — which includes dollars for new subway cars, buses, and big construction projects like the Second Avenue Subway.

The Straphangers Campaign released the top 10 best and top ten worst moments for riders on Monday.

“On truly bad days, a subway and bus ride can feel like surviving the 10 plagues,” said Gene Russianoff, the staff attorney for the group, in a statement. “On good days, navigating the system is thankfully less daunting, but always challenging.”

Here are some of the lowlights for riders this year, according to the Straphangers Campaign:

Subway cars got even more cramped, with ridership hitting the highest levels since World War II and sparking overcrowding delays

The MTA raised the fare for a subway and bus ride by a quarter to $2.75. The monthly MetroCard went up almost $5 to $116.50.



Comets 2 @ Devils 3 (OT)

In the eighth meeting between the clubs the Utica Comets were finally able to record their first point against the franchise that used to call Utica home in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Albany Devils on Wednesday night at the Times Union Center. The Comets entered tonight’s contest having lost all seven of their previous match-ups in regulation.

Blair Jones (1-0-1), and Hunter Shinkaruk (1-0-1) handled the scoring for the Comets, while Richard Bachman turned aside 23 of the Devils 26 shots on goal.

For the third straight game the Comets surrendered the game’s first goal. Reid Boucher dug the puck out from underneath a scrum along the half wall and cut across the bottom of the face-off circle. With four Comets players stuck on one side of the ice, defenseman Reece Scarlett streaked in from the blue line unchecked and put the finishing touches on a cross crease pass from Boucher for his first goal of the season.

Just under 10 minutes later the Comets power play snapped an 0-for-16 skid to knot the game at 1-1. After he received a pass from Michael Zalewski, Jordan Subban skated across the blue line before wristing an innocent looking shot on net. Jones, who was camped out at the top of the crease, redirected the shot past Danis for his ninth goal of the season.

The Devils would regain their lead in the beginning stages of the second period. Off a three-on-two rush, Paul Thompson put a shot on net that Bachman denied. Jim O’Brien crashed hard and had two point blank rebound chances. Bachman turned aside the first chance, but did not have an answer for the second one.

Grenier forced a turnover at center ice and along with Shinkaruk broke in on a two-on-one. With the Devils defender’s stick laying flat on the ice, Grenier saucer passed the puck over the stick of the defender, and across the slot, to Shinkaruk who quickly roofed it over the sprawled out Devils’goaltender.

Regulation ended with the teams tied at two.

The Devils only needed 58 seconds in overtime to claim their eighth straight victory over the Comets. The 2015-16 American Hockey League’s MVP, Brian O’Neill, entered the Comets zone with his linemates flanked to either side. He slipped the puck to O’Brien who wristed a shot on goal from just below the dot that Bachman appeared to have gobbled up. However, the puck dribbled out to the far side and O’Brien tapped home the rebound before Bachman or a defender could clear it.

With the overtime loss the Comets record fell to 16-15-3-2. The Comets power play snapped an 0-for-16 skid with a power-play goal in the first period, and ended the game 1 for 4. The Devils top-ranked power-play unit was blanked on four attempts by the Comets penalty-killing unit.

The Comets and Devils will conclude their home-and-home series tomorrow night at The AUD. The New Year’s Eve showdown is scheduled for a 5 p.m. puck drop.