Archive for the ‘CONNECTICUT – State News’ Category

Wallingford Police Department Hurricane Information

Friday, August 26th, 2011

I had this forwarded to me from Town Councilor Vincent Cervoni (thanks Vinny) and I thought it made sense to get it out to everyone so I am cross posting it to my blogs, Facebook and the Record Journal forums.

The full details of this can be downloaded HERE

What is important to note immediately is that there will be a parking ban in effect as of 11PM Saturday the 27th.

There is additional information within the PDF so I would suggest that everyone read through it in detail.

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Nation’s busiest railroad struggles with old wires

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

By John Christoffersen
Associated Press

As published in the Sunday edition of the Record Journal on August 21, 2011

NEW HAVEN — After passengers became stuck in a disabled train with no air conditioning in stifling heat last month on the nation’s busiest rail line, Metro-North Railroad pointed to a familiar culprit hanging around for a century.

Metro-North said the severe troubles on July 22 that led desperate passengers to call 911, remove emergency windows and even flee the train to walk along the railroad were caused by overhead wires that power the trains. Portions of the catenary system date to 1914 and are prone to failure in extreme heat when wires sag and become tangled in mechanical arms on top of the train cars.

Metro-North promised this week to work with the Connecticut Department of Transportation to replace the wires and other aging infrastructure “as expeditiously as possible.” Connecticut began replacing the wires in 1996 and the project is about 60 percent done but is not expected to be finished until 2015. “This system is decades past its useful life and the fragile condition of the system leads to regular failures, significantly impacting service reliability,” the railroad wrote in a report of an investigation into last month’s troubles.

The overhead wires are responsible for about 8 percent of delays on the New Haven line, Metro-North said. With nearly 400 trains operating on the line daily and Metro-North carrying 37 million people annually, train officials said it’s challenging to make improvements.

New York has already replaced its catenary system and has not experienced failures, according to the report. Metro-North noted that new train cars are arriving in Connecticut and promised to improve its emergency response when trains are disabled.

“It is important to note, however, that these actions cannot overcome years of disinvestment in infrastructure and equipment,” the report stated.

Gene Colonese, railroad administrator for DOT, said the original goal was to finish the project by 2010 but it proved more complicated. He said officials recently decided to focus more on upgrades to the wires rather than railroad bridges, but still doesn’t expect to finish the work before 2015.

The real issue was Metro-North’s emergency response and failure to communicate, said Jim Cameron, who heads up the rail commuter council. Downed wires are a common cause of major delays, but DOT projects are always delayed and even new wires can be pulled down by old train cars, he said.

A new fleet of train cars has been slowly arriving, but Cameron said it’s been delayed more than a year.

“These are all excuses Metro-North can use, none of which deal with the fundamental issues of their personnel and their incompetence and their lack of communication when something happens,” Cameron said. “Passengers were that desperate that they felt the call to 911 was going to be necessary to save their lives.”

Frank K. Darmstadt, a 47year-old New Jersey resident who was on the train to visit his parents, said passengers sat in the train for about 45 minutes in Westport with little communication by Metro-North. Passengers begged for water and began opening emergency windows for air, he said.

“People were on the verge of passing out,” Darmstadt said, noting there were pregnant and elderly passengers. “There was a sense of nobody knew what the heck was going on and nobody knew what to do in this emergency type of situation.”

Ron Kovis, a 53-year-old graphic artist from Fairfield who was on the train when it broke down in Westport, said it felt like the train was well over 100 degrees. He said passengers pleaded with train personnel to open the doors, an elderly man next to him was struggling and two women managed to get off the train and were walking alongside it. “It was very claustrophobic and extremely hot,” Kovis said. “I couldn’t believe how hot it was.”

Metro-North apologized and promised to make more frequent announcements and enact other reforms, including stepped up coordination with local first responders.

Cameron said his group has tried unsuccessfully for years to get Metro-North to improve its communications.

Kovis said he wasn’t surprised to hear Metro-North blame the catenary system.

“It seems like most of the time when we have problems it’s related to the overhead wires,” he said. “It seems like it’s taken forever.”

Kovis said commuters are also frustrated with the slow arrival of the new trains, adding “probably the richest area in the country and I think we probably have the worst train system in the country. There’s just something wrong with that.”

Proposed Changes in Fares on New Haven Line

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

http://www.mta.info/mta/news/hearings/

The public is invited to comment on fare increases proposed by the Connecticut Department of Transportation ("CDOT") for travel between Connecticut and New York stations on MTA Metro-North Railroad’s New Haven Line, as well as for travel between stations within Connecticut on that line. The fare increases, which are proposed to become effective on November 1, range from 0% to 30% (with most fares increasing 14% to 18%), with additional proposed increases of 1% per year for the years 2013 through 2018.

CDOT also proposes to increase certain bus and Shore Line East rail fares, which would cause a corresponding increase in UniTicket and UniRail fares. More detailed information on the proposed fare increases will be available on or about August 15, 2011, on CDOT’s and Metro-North’s websites at www.ct.gov and www.mta.info or at Metro-North’s Customer Service Center (8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Mon.-Fri.) located on the Main Concourse of Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan, and at the offices of the Connecticut Department of Transportation, 3rd floor of Union Station, 50 Union Avenue, New Haven.

Time & Place of the Hearings

Tuesday, August 23, 2011
4:00 to 6:00 PM and 7:00 to 9:00 PM
General Re Auditorium
University of Connecticut, Stamford Branch
One University Place, Stamford, Connecticut

Wednesday, August 24, 2011
4:00 to 6:00 PM and 7:00 to 9:00 PM
Hall of Records, Room G-2
200 Orange Street, New Haven, Connecticut

Tuesday, August 30, 2011
2:00 to 4:00 PM and 5:00 to 6:00 PM
Downstairs Hearing Room, Silas Bronson Library
267 Grand Street, Waterbury, Connecticut

FROM WALLINGFORD – Truth overtakes rail project

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

V-Knight_S

This week’s FROM WALLINGFORD was written by Stephen Knight

As published in the Record Journal, Sunday August 7, 2011

I have been a student of the railroad industry for my entire adult life; as a student in graduate school, as a keenly interested observer, and as a professional transportation consultant. So I write this column with considerable angst, because it is my conclusion that the proposed New Haven-Hartford-Springfield commuter rail project that will run through Wallingford is a boondoggle of fantastic proportions. My inherent predisposition to support this project is overwhelmed when confronted with the 1) downright mythical speed and service projections, 2) wildly optimistic ridership projections and 3) blindly underestimated capital and operating expenses.

Speed and service projections: In a May 9 press release, Gov. Malloy stated that these trains would reach “speeds up to 110 miles per hour.” I say: only if you catapult the trains from every station like they do jet fighters off an aircraft carrier. Why? First of all, there will eventually be 11 stops in the 62 miles between New Haven and Springfield. That’s an average of less than six miles between stops. So where exactly will these trains do 110 mph? And — are you ready for this? — the service will commence with hand-me-down equipment from Shoreline East. According to their latest schedule, those trains, making all the stops, move between New Haven and New London averaging less than 50 mph, and do so on the most advanced, best maintained railroad track in America. Secondly, this speed in a corridor with thirty-eight grade crossings? Really? So calling the NHHS project high speed rail is utterly fictitious.

Ridership projections built on the sentiment “Build it and they will come”: in calculating potential ridership, the numbers presented assume a) many more daily Amtrak trains running on the line; b) enormous numbers of passengers feeding the line from the so-called “Knowledge Corridor” line in central Massachusetts which has yet to be rebuilt; and c) thousands upon thousands of people willing to live in this corridor and work 2 ½ hours away in New York City. In other words, the number of commuters between New Haven and Springfield that is supposedly the driving force behind this project could never, ever justify the price tag, so numbers assuming a complete northeastern United States rail system build out are used to puff up the stats.

Capital and operating expenses: The price tag for rail line and station construction alone is $647 million, and the project is counting on huge support from the feds. Here is the latest fed response: State of Connecticut request — $227 million. Fed grant: $30 million. Result: the project has already contracted to providing trains only during peak commuter times. And how much money is allocated to purchase rolling stock — the stuff you ride on? Zero. As mentioned above, the plan is to use the existing Shore Line East equipment until, well, who knows?

As for operating expenses, somehow the project is making revenue estimates, but they haven’t even set the fare schedule. How do you do that? But even assuming (do you see that word a lot here?) their revenue and ridership projections are accurate, there is an inherent, unavoidable, inevitable huge annual cash subsidy. This is not unusual. This is the norm, but could someone in Hartford admit that?

So here’s the rub. Even more than I love railroads, I love the truth. The unvarnished, straight up, tell-it-like-it-is, we can take it truth. And we aren’t getting it. We are being fed pretty pictures, fantastic blue-sky fuzzy numbers and gauzy descriptions of an idyllic life in a future northeastern U.S. economy that seems farther from reality every single day.

If these words seem harsh, they spring from disappointment.

Disappointment that this project is not a practical, financially sensible fit for the market in which it is to operate, and disappointed that you and I are, yet again, being treated like proverbial mushrooms: kept in the dark and covered with . . . well, you know what I’m saying.

REMINDER – Information meeting set Aug. 4th regarding the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield commuter rail project

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

As published in the Record Journal Friday July 22, 2011

WALLINGFORD — The office of Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. will sponsor a public information meeting at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 4 in the Town Council chambers at the Town Hall, 45 S. Main St.

Representatives from the Connecticut Department of Transportation and their consultant team will provide an update on the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield commuter rail project and its impact on Wallingford and possible station locations, including the property on South Cherry Street next to Judd Square Condominiums.

After the presentation, a question-and-answer session will be open to all attendees.

For information, call the mayor’s office at (203) 294-2070 or the engineering department at (203) 294-2035.

Congratulations to my sister, Nicole Consiglio, as Ovation Benefits Receives National Gold Well Workplace Award from the Wellness Councils of America (WELCOA)

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Farmington, CT — Ovation Benefits, a national leader in workforce health improvement and one of the largest independent benefits brokers in the country, announced today that the organization has been designated a Gold Level Well Workplace by the Wellness Councils of America (WELCOA), one of the country’s foremost authorities on health promotion in the workplace.

According to the Gold Level designation letter, Ovation benefits “has demonstrated that it is committed to protecting and enhancing the health and well-being of your most valuable asset—your employees.” This is the second time that Ovation has been recognized as a Well Workplace, but the first time the company has received the Gold Level rating.

“The health and well-being of our people is critical to the success of our business. Making it through WELCOA’s rigorous qualification process and receiving the Gold designation is a testament to the dedication of our Wellness Coordinator, Nicole Consiglio and the members of our Wellness Committee” said Bill Mauke, Ovation Partner and Workforce Health Practice Leader. “Our program has documented measurable improvement in the health of our employees and their families, and the WELCOA Well Workplace Award reinforces that we are on the right path.”

Ovation Benefits has enjoyed over a decade of commitment to employee health as made a priority by the organization’s leadership. The company has a Wellness Mission Statement, which reads, “Our goal is to help our employees achieve their optimal health status, and in the process to establish a competitive advantage for our business through a healthier, more engaged and more productive workforce. Our holistic wellness strategy engages all employees and their family members in understanding their individual health risks, to develop appropriate action plans to improve health and to provide the leadership, support and resources necessary to make positive changes in their life.”

For the past twenty years, WELCOA’s mission has been to promote and reward innovative wellness programming in the workplace. With WELCOA’s guidance, over 1,000 employers, including public agencies, private corporations, healthcare systems and educational institutions have been able to transform their cultures to embrace health and make the well-being of their employees a top priority.

ABOUT OVATION BENEFITS Ovation Benefits, established in 2002, is the national leader in Workforce Health Improvement and one of the largest independent benefit brokers in the nation, representing more than 250 employers and more than 100,000 individuals in 43 states. Ovation’s clients include small business, middle market and Fortune 1000 employer groups and more than 40 cities, towns and boards of education. “TakeCharge” is Ovation’s new fully integrated, turnkey product platform that incorporates best in class health improvement benefits, incentives, interventions and member support designed to deliver sustainable cost reduction through health improvement and unparalleled employee engagement. For further information, please visit www.ovationbenefits.com.

Contact: Allison Lantieri | Ovation Benefits | 5 Batterson Park Rd. Suite 1 | Farmington, CT 06032 | 800.364.7575

Information meeting set Aug. 4th regarding the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield commuter rail project

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

As published in the Record Journal Friday July 22, 2011

WALLINGFORD — The office of Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. will sponsor a public information meeting at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 4 in the Town Council chambers at the Town Hall, 45 S. Main St.

Representatives from the Connecticut Department of Transportation and their consultant team will provide an update on the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield commuter rail project and its impact on Wallingford and possible station locations, including the property on South Cherry Street next to Judd Square Condominiums.

After the presentation, a question-and-answer session will be open to all attendees.

For information, call the mayor’s office at (203) 294-2070 or the engineering department at (203) 294-2035.

GOV. MALLOY ANNOUNCES $40 MILLION FOR HIGH SPEED RAIL FUNDS RELEASED TO CONNECTICUT

Friday, April 8th, 2011

GOV. MALLOY ANNOUNCES $40 MILLION FOR HIGH SPEED RAIL FUNDS RELEASED TO CONNECTICUT

(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that $40 million in previously allocated stimulus funding was released today to Connecticut. Governor Malloy spoke at length with U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood about this when they met last month. While the funding for high speed rail was previously allocated, if not actually released to Connecticut by April 8, the state would have lost the money altogether.

“There was a very clear deadline by which we needed to have these funds released, and I wasn’t about to let $40 million in money for our state go somewhere else,” said Governor Malloy. “When I spoke with Secretary LaHood, I made our state’s case clearly and asked for his help cutting through the red tape to make sure that we got this money released to Connecticut by the deadline. I’d like to thank Secretary LaHood for his help on this matter, and I look forward to working with him closely on high speed rail and other transportation issues of import to the state.”

“High-speed rail will open up a new world of economic opportunities for Connecticut,” said Secretary LaHood. “The Administration’s initial $40 million investment in upgrading the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail line will create jobs now and help ensure that in years to come, Connecticut residents will have access to world class high-speed rail service and economic opportunities throughout New England.”

The $40 million in previously allocated funds will be used to double-track ten miles of existing track between Newington and Meriden, which is necessary for the full New Haven-to-Springfield rail line to move forward.

###

For Immediate Release: April 8, 2011

Contact: David Bednarz

David.Bednarz@ct.gov

860-524-7315 (office)

860-770-9792 (cell)

Twitter: @GovMalloyOffice

Facebook: Office of Governor Dannel P. Malloy

GOV. MALLOY MEETS WITH METRO-NORTH PRESIDENT HOWARD PERMUT

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy today met with Metro-North President Howard Permut to talk more about the disruption in service on Metro-North’s New Haven line, and what can be done going forward. Mr. Permut met with Governor Malloy in his office in Hartford earlier today.

“The fact that Metro-North’s New Haven line is the busiest in the United States offers little solace to the commuters who depend on its service every day,” said Governor Malloy. “The issues we’re experiencing there are illustrative of the problems our state is facing generally – for too long we’ve deferred our problems, and instead, we’ve covered them up with a band-aid until some later date. Well, the band-aid has worn off and there is no later date. The average age of the New Haven railcar fleet is 32 years, versus the average age of other lines’ fleets which is 6 years – it’s no wonder the New Haven line is having trouble keeping up. And I’m very mindful of the concerns of the commuters who use the Waterbury line, who’ve gotten the short end of the stick over the years.  I’m determined to address their legitimate concerns as quickly as time and resources allow.

“Mr. Permut and I had a broad discussion about a capital investment program to get new cars on line as soon as possible. The final stage of testing for the current M8 cars is scheduled to begin shortly, and my bond commission agenda includes funding for the final 38 cars. I’m not pretending this will solve all of our problems – it won’t. But I don’t have the luxury – nor do I have the inclination – to wait around and let someone else deal with this. I asked Mr. Permut for regular updates on the cars currently being repaired, as well as the reduced winter schedule.

“There is no silver bullet, but I am committed to getting the New Haven line back to where it needs to be to serve the people of Connecticut.”

For Immediate Release:

Colleen Flanagan

Director of Communications

860.524.7308 (o)

860.770.8090 (c)

Colleen.Flanagan@ct.gov

Short follow up to my last post regarding – “Metro North Sucks”

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

I sent in a complain by email; here is part of the canned response:

“You will receive a response as soon as possible; however, some responses can take up to 15 business days.”

There are but a few things on the planet that actually take 15 days or longer to occur.

There are a few exceptions of course.

Responding to a customer complaint does not fall in to that category.