City, State Leaders Try To Rescue Derailed Train Station

It was proposed in 2014 under the mayoral administration of Bill Finch and then-Governor Dan Malloy during his reelection year, but the $300 million price tag for a second city train station on the East Side created questions about its viability.

City and state officials are trying to resurrect the project that the Connecticut Department of Transportation declared the state cannot afford.

News release from Mayor Joe Ganim and Bridgeport’s legislative delegation:

Mayor Joe Ganim and Bridgeport State Legislators today are reiterating their commitment to see the Barnum high-speed rail station built on the East Side of Bridgeport.  With a recent news report that the Barnum train station project was deferred by the Connecticut Department of Transportation under former Governor Malloy due to an inability to secure financing for construction, Mayor Ganim joined several members of the Bridgeport legislative delegation as well as officials from the new administration of Governor Ned Lamont today for a conference call to reiterate the city’s commitment to seeing the station built.

“Having a high-speed rail station in Bridgeport is essential to making Governor Lamont’s vision of 30-minute rail travel between New Haven and Stamford become a reality,” said Mayor Ganim. “The Governor made a very strong statement the day he was inaugurated about investing in rail travel to improve Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure. We endorse this vision. The city and state have already invested millions to develop the area around the proposed Barnum Station in anticipation that this new station would be built. Major, new mixed income housing developments have been constructed nearby. We are preparing to clear a massive former industrial complex and remediate brownfields just across the street so new transit-oriented developments can move in. The East Side and other adjoining neighborhoods have gotten their hopes up about the possibility of a new rail station and are looking to us as leaders to make it happen.”

Mayor Ganim continued, “The regional council of governments, our federal partners and the private sector have all expressed an interest in contributing financing to build the new station. Making this a reality would benefit the economy of the entire Bridgeport region and the whole state of Connecticut. It can and should be built, and we are looking for a firm commitment from the state to make it happen. Even if we have to consider a redesign to bring down the price tag for construction, or partner with a private entity, we should explore all options that move the Barnum Station forward. I look forward to meeting with our legislators and the Lamont Administration to get this station back on track.”

“We understand the desire to advance the Barnum Station and will continue to work with the city and the General Assembly,” said CTDOT Commissioner Joseph J. Giulietti. “As we set priorities for the next few years, all of our rail facilities will be evaluated for future enhancement.”

The Barnum Station was originally proposed in 2014 by then Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy but since that time has not moved onto a list of projects ready for construction by the Connecticut Department of Transportation. A federal TIGER grant originally awarded for the train station in 2015 was rescinded at the end of 2016 by the Obama administration due to an inability by the State of Connecticut to provide financing to pay the cost of designing and building the station off Barnum Avenue. The Barnum Station price tag climbed from an original estimate of $48 Million to nearly $300 Million due to additional construction requirements imposed regional and national rail carriers.

Bridgeport State Legislative Delegation Chair Ezequiel Santiago (D-130), joined Representatives Chris Rosario (D-128), Steve Stafstrom (D-129), Charlie Stallworth (D-126), Andre Baker (D-124) and Jack Hennessy (D-127) to issue the following statement, “With a number of years in and extensive resources expended the Bridgeport delegation remains steadfastly in support of the Barnum train station and will continue to work to see it come to fruition. The city, governor and DOT are supportive and we will be meeting with all parties in the coming days to move this project forward.”

Bridgeport State Senator Dennis Bradley (D-23) whose district covers parts of Stratford and Bridgeport including where the Barnum Station is proposed to be built, said, “Bridgeport must have this Barnum commuter rail station. As the largest city in the state, we have a large amount of residents that need public transportation to provide for their families. We implore the Governor and Department of Transportation to make this a shovel-ready project.”

Bridgeport State Senator Marilyn Moore (D-22) said, “I believe Bridgeport is an important component of this administration’s vision for high speed travel in Connecticut. The state delegation is eager to work together to include Bridgeport as a part of that vision.”

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43 comments

  1. The Majestic Theater Developers were just given another extension because they have not yet obtained the $53,000,000 needed to finance the project, however the Ganim administration is claiming they can raise private funds for a $300,000,000 million dollar train station that would be located on the lower east side. You would be able to walk from the existing train station to the new train station in 15 minutes.

    Bridgeport tax payers are funding $7,000,000 of the cost of the Amphitheater in the same year Mayor Ganim and the City Council only appropriated an additional $377,000 for our 21,000 students.

    I have a better idea. Raise private funds and invest tax payer funds in your Bridgeport Public Schools and the future of 21,000 children you a__hole.

  2. I still believe in the East Side Bridgeport Railroad Station. I have no idee why the costs exploded. We should start looking at Metro North as a “Subway” all the way from New Haven right through NYC/Grand Central. IMHO,the people who are opposed to this very rarely take Metro North or ANY type of public transportation and I believe that that people who are opposed to this are close to 100% automobile transportation and have no idea of the importance mow and the growing importance of mass transportation in the future. What good are great schools if people can’t get to their jobs? And I believe EDUCATION is the key to everything but there are also practical concerns that need to be addressed.

    1. You can walk from Fairfield Metro to Fairfield Downtown Train Station within 15 minutes. You can walk from Downtown Fairfield Train station to Southport/Fairfield train station within 15 minutes. Same thing in Westport with Greens Farms/Saugutuck stations. same thing in Norwalk with South Norwalk and East Norwalk train stations. Same thing in Darien with Rowayton and Darien train stations. I know this for a fact because I took Metro North for 20 years and i am an eyewitness to what has happened and to the changes along MetroNorth.

      1. Soo..if People of Bridgeport want more funds going to Education/Bridgeport Board of Education,the People of Bridgeport need to elect a mayor and/or a city council than can overide any veto of a budget my a Bridgeport Mayor. I think that is what some people in Bridgeport are working towards. However,the combination of Joe Ganim as mayor and a large majority of the City Council being Ganim acolytes means that Education will play a secondary role with Joe Ganim as Mayor in combination with the puppets on the City Council.

      2. Strange ‘fact’ to misrepresent. I’d bet $50 you couldn’t run from Metro to Fairfield station in 20 minutes let alone walk it in 15. I suppose if you walked on the track, Hobo Style, you might have an argument.

      1. I just did. What’s good for Fairfield,Westport,Darien would work for Bridgeport. Ron,do you really think tthat a possible Gala Supermarket will be able to hire all the people on the Eastern Side of Bridgeport who are looking and needing jobs. I don’t think so. Like I keep on saying. People need to make a major shift on their perspective of Metro North . Metro North is now the subway for Fairfield/New Haven/Westchester Counties all the way to 125th Street in harlem and Grand Central. That is the concept for the future. If we remain stuck in the past,no one will understand the need for the Barnum/East side train station

        1. The old days of driving to your job which is within a few miles of your home are OVER. People need to understand this. That concept is over. There is a whole new paradigm. Some people will need to commute one hour plus. Some people will work within their own home yet deliver 100% ASAP responses. The old job economy is over.

        2. Frank, commuters are not going to walk anywhere on the East Side like they do at the Fairfield Downtown Train Station within 15 minutes. You can walk from Downtown Fairfield Train station to Southport/Fairfield train station within 15 minutes. Same thing in Westport with Greens Farms/Saugutuck stations. same thing in Norwalk with South Norwalk and East Norwalk train stations. Same thing in Darien with Rowayton and Darien train stations. Frank, that’s not going to happen at this new station.

          1. Mr. Mackey.. most respectfully. Do you have a 100% accurate crystal ball.. As far as I know and I will doublecheck,NO MetroNorth sations on the Connecticut Line have been closed due to lack of use.

          2. IMHO.. a Barnum/Eastern half of Bridgeport train station will have a much greater impact than one single Gala supermarket. An eastern side train station will give the people of eastern Bridgeport more opportunities to go out and do things. It’s like the old American saying… “Go West,Young Man.”

      2. Ron,
        Are you saying that the East side is so inherently unsafe for pedestrian traffic that people will not walk or that the future is hopeless for the Eastside. Then we might as well forget about the Eastside and let’s stop wasting and effort to try to turn that part of BPT around. But,then again,I remember Skydel’s when East Main Street was a good place to go for shopping. IDK. Maybe it is hopeless.

        1. I agree with Frank. I commuted for +25 years to the Norwalk area. Drove mostly but for a period of time I took the train. I also lived near Bpt Hospital. In order to get the train in BPT I had to take a bus or cab. Many others that live over there do the same. It would be much easier and cheaper to have a train station over there. Also – the parking at the Stratford station is almost maxed out and not too safe (car break ins) the further away you park from the station. There are people from BPT that drive to that one too. It would be helpful. Also – people visiting their families in BPT Hospital could take a train there and then perhaps the hospital could run a shuttle or they could walk. This is about more than what is around there right now. However – with the people that would now be getting off over there – small businesses could pop up. Many of the little restaurants, etc around the stations Frank mentioned get a lot of business from the commuter traffic. Maybe not major stores yet. but small pizza places, places to pick up coffee / breakfast, grab a sandwich. You’d be surprised how much business a small coffee shop could do next to a train station with regular commuter traffic. Also – would be appealing to live in the area since you are right on the train line. if done correctly – the surrounding neighborhoods could thrive and build itself up. Right now – the major highways (I95 and Merritt Parkway) – going towards Stamford in the morning and coming towards Bridgeport at night are a congested mess. You give up easily 60 minutes each way – every day. That’s 2 hours in traffic on a very good day – forget it on a Friday night. there is merit to train station over there.

  3. I’m a proud son of the lower East Side, but another railroad station in Bridgeport would be a waste of money that neither the state nor the city has. It was a fantasy from day one pushed by a gang of grandstanding stooges and hacks that was never going to happen. Nor was there any demonstrable need for it, especially now with the Congress Street bridge finally being replaced. Properly maintain the existing lines, and fix the roads and bridges that are crumbling from years of Hartford’s neglect.

    1. Hi Bob.
      First of all,The Congress Street bridge is far from guaranteed. Bob..do you take mass transit as in MetroNorth as in taking trains at Fairfield Metro. Why do you want to take away the same opportunity to the Eastern Half of Bridgport as you get to walking to Fairfield Metro.

  4. Remember when Mayor Finch and Governor Malloy announced plans for the ‘Barnum Station’?

    The CT Department of Transportation said; Train Station? Bridgeport? News to us.

    It only existed in election brochures. Now add it to Ganim’s

  5. Frank, my concern again is the residents and the businesses on the East Side, how do they benefit when commuters will drive and park then take their train and do the same thing on their return trip?

    1. Ron…that you show me any Metro-North Station has has been a failure. Trains mean that people can travel and find new opportunities. Once again,the days of where is job is within a 3-5 mile circumfrence are OVER. People need the means to move around. Metro North is a subway.

      1. Frank, what the hell are you talking about? Where is the financial benefits for residents and the businesses of the East Side? Commuters are not going shopping or out to eat on the East Side, they will park and leave just like if there’s a casino here, those gamblers are not going downtown Bridgeport, they are in and out.

  6. As a native Bridgeporteur1 who invested extensively in the East Side and has a masters in City Planning, historically, new train stations are boons to local economies.
    Bridgeport has paid its dues as the Arsenal of Democracy and given up much of its prime land to create highways that have torn us apart
    It’s our turn.

  7. What — who — would a new East Side train station bring to Bridgeport — and for what purposes?! If anyone has an answer for that — an answer that includes a dramatic increase in high-value Bridgeport tax-base, as well as tens of thousands of local, living-wage jobs — then we have an argument to make a tremendous effort to secure that train station.

    Indeed, in regard to the co-requirement of the tens of thousands of living-wage jobs as a co-requisite of the dramatic tax-base increase, high-value tax-base, by definition, doesn’t happen without the creation of large number of living-wage jobs — unless, perhaps, your talking about hosting a private-sector nuclear waste site, or some such other destructive tax-base in search of a host (such as a fossil-fuel power plant…), which, by definition, will devalue municipal tax-base overall, anyway…

    Bob Halstead: As an experienced urban planner with an advanced, university degree in the subject, please present a detailed plan that includes this proposed, new train station dramatically improving the fortunes of our city and its residents… What specific, tax-base and job-creating functions would the train station facilitate/permit? How many and what kind of jobs?! How much new tax-base? Of what nature? (Any opportunity costs involved?) (Maybe you want to write a whole segment o this for OIB, since it will probably take quite a few words…). (And please understand that I’m not being in any way sarcastic or antagonistic in asking this formidable question. I am genuinely interested in any reasonable approach to improving the fortunes of Bridgeport and all of its residents, and you seem most qualified to provide a digestible answer…)

    (In any event: Regardless of indications for a “second” Bridgeport train station, our primary station should be upgraded to accommodate the Acela/high-speed rail…)

    1. Jeff,
      Please tell us about one single failed and useless New Haven/Metro North railroad. We all await your answer with bated breath. Most respectfully. Thank you.

      1. Jeff and Ron,
        Do either of you use Metro North on a daily basis. Do either of you use the Coastal Link Bus system. Do either of you use any of the GBTD bus systems. Do either of you use mass transit on a daily basis?

        1. Frank, I don’t see people getting off buses and trains and walking downtown to go shopping, bus riders downtown are waiting to transfer to their next bus and train riders are waiting for a ride to pick them up or they are walking to get their car. They can’t afford to drive and park downtown to shop and eat because the cost of parking.

    2. Jeff
      You sound like my thesis advisor
      That’s a good thing
      With all the universities around here it’s mixing none of the advanced degree students have don much study on Bridgeport
      The cost benefit analysis of an East Side Train Station would be a perfect thesis topic.
      That would be a good thing. One example of a city’s renaissance: Providence- in my urban studies, I was advised that the revitalization started with student studies!
      In Connecticut, I believe there are only two accredited urban Tudor programs: Yale and UConn. Southern has an unaccredited Masters in Urban Planning that I am not at all impressed with. And UConn? How can they have an urban planning program located out in the sticks?
      I’m just touching upon the subject
      Perhaps all do. More extensive piece.

    1. Robert Moses destroy neighborhoods because he was more concerned about moving card and not the people who reside in those neighborhoods, well the same here, no permeant jobs and new businesses just park your car and ride nothing about the East Side. Jeff got it right.

        1. The Cross Bronx Expressway that Robert Moses design moves a lot cars around but at the same time it destroy the Bronx neighborhood and walk up and drive by customers.

  8. Jeff what comes first the horse of the carriage? It’s not like the dramatic increase in high-value Bridgeport tax-base, as well as tens of thousands of local, living-wage jobs are going to coming without it. Jeff train or no train station and whatever experience you have please (present a detailed plan that includes this proposed, new train station dramatically improving the fortunes of our city and its residents… What specific, tax-base and job-creating functions would the train station facilitate/permit? How many and what kind of jobs?! How much new tax-base? Of what nature? (Any opportunity costs involved?) (Maybe you want to write a whole segment o this for OIB, since it will probably take quite a few words…). And please understand that I am being sarcastic and an antagonistic in asking this formidable question. I guess the honeymoon is over. 🙂

    Ron, Frank may or may not be out of date in city politics, but are out of touch or at least insincere about the progress for the city as a whole. Who do you think will use and benefit form this train station.? It’s not like the train tracks are not running through the East Side already people. The station just creating an access to it. Or that land is highly developed and the station will under mind it, or investors are beating down the door to develop the surrounding land.

    Ron a properly developed resort casino is the greatest single development with regards to job creation and revenue for the city. but the cost of parking is problem stymieing Bridgeport’s progress.

    Hedley Lamar know the value in a train station. 🙂

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jcLTP71B6g

  9. PS I do have to ask, what kind of train station cost 300 million? The tribes East Windors proposal casino is 350 million. It’s a parking lot and platform platform people. or is it. SMBH

    1. Now I know why we need tolls to tax the people, to pay for a 300 million dollar parking lot and platform.

      What get me no one in our state delegation or in general really seems to be questioning the cost. It’s more about the need or location based on ones perspective. Who’s watching the money being spent.? Or is it more about need to generate revenue by taxes to spend. Bam I;m out. JS people.

  10. I see a lot of people at the transit center , the bus, ferry and rail connections. Not many actually venture downtown unless they have business at one of the courthouses or the attorneys and bail bondsmen that work there.

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