Legislators named co-chairs of Railway Caucus

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HARTFORD — Four local legislators have been named co-chairs of the newly formed Railway Caucus, which will advocate for improvements and funding for the Waterbury branch of the Metro-North Railroad.

The bipartisan Railway Caucus is led by one member from each of the four General Assembly caucuses. The co-chairs are state representatives Rosa Rebimbas, R-Naugatuck, and Linda Gentile, D-Ansonia, along with state senators George Logan, R-17th District, and Joan Hartley, D-15th District.

The caucus believes that transportation improvements will lead to economic growth in the Naugatuck Valley, but says a number of issues must be addressed, a press release stated. Those issues include limited service, ridership, single track, dated equipment and lack of station amenities.

In February, Naugatuck Mayor Warren “Pete” Hess hosted a rail summit to discuss infrastructure improvements and funding for the Waterbury branch.

The state Department of Transportation is proposing to reduce weekend and weekday off-peak service and raise fares on the branch to mitigate the agency’s budget deficit.

Aside from the planned service cuts, Gov. Dannel Malloy and the DOT have postponed $4.3 billion in transportation projects indefinitely because the Special Transportation Fund is poised to become insolvent. The postponed projects include the purchase of new train locomotives and cars for the Waterbury branch.