Joan Hartley

State Senator

Joan Hartley

Chief Deputy President Pro Tempore

An Independent Voice

May 5, 2021

Sen. Hartley, Rep. Reyes Vote for and Applaud Bipartisan Approval of Legislation Expanding Waterbury Branch Line Service

State Senator Joan Hartley (D-Waterbury, Naugatuck, and Middlebury), Senate Vice Chair on the Appropriations Committee, and State Representative Geraldo Reyes Jr. (D-Waterbury), member of the Appropriations Committee, and both serving as co-chairs of the Waterbury Rail Line Caucus, applauded the bipartisan approval of Senate Bill 576, “An Act Concerning the Expansion of Passenger Rail Service on the Waterbury Branch of the Metro-North Commuter Railroad,” in the Appropriations Committee. The bill now awaits action in the state Senate and House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 576 directs the Commissioner of the state Department of Transportation to increase the frequency of service and number of trains on the Metro-North’s Waterbury Branch line.

The expansion of train service has been a continual focus of local municipal elected officials, community advocates, and state legislators including the bipartisan Waterbury Rail Line Caucus due to the numerous benefits improved train service poses for economic development, tourism, and people residing in the Naugatuck Valley.

“Better reliability and frequency of service on the Waterbury Branch line is an investment in the economic recovery of the Naugatuck Valley, even more it serves to benefit the vibrancy of the Valley from business growth to tourism for years to come,” said Sen. Hartley. “At its core, the improvement of the rail line serves the everyday needs of residents. Whether, they are someone commuting to work or a college student traveling to campus. Improved train speed and availability of service helps people across the region. I am thankful the rail line continues to receive strong support and advocacy from both sides of the aisle.”

“In my years of lobbying to get this vital funding for the Waterbury Rail line, I have always stressed the positive economic impact this expansion would have on not only our community, but also the region,” Rep. Reyes said. “This funding is exactly what we need for the City of Waterbury as it is going to allow more connections to New York City and Boston, increasing new economic traffic through the Naugatuck Valley. I want to thank Senator Joan Hartley, my caucus co-chair, Representative Rosa Rebimbas (R-Naugatuck), as well as the rest of the Waterbury Rail Line Caucus for their continued bipartisan advocacy and support.”

The approval of Senate Bill 576 follows the Appropriations Committee’s passage of the proposed biennial state budget unveiled by the co-chairs of the committee, which contains the appropriation of $1,227,689 for FY 2023 to increase the number of trains servicing the rail line from 15 to 22 on weekdays and 12 to 15 on the weekends. This appropriation of operating funds for the rail line is consistent with Governor Lamont’s proposed budget.

The passage of Senate Bill 576 and approval of rail line funding by the Appropriations Committee follows on the separate completion or near completion of a $120 million capital project by the Department of Transportation to make upgrades to the Waterbury Branch line including: modern bi-directional train service, signal and communications upgrades, repairs to three major rail bridges in the Naugatuck Valley region including a bridge located in Naugatuck. These upgrades would address critical issues the branch line is facing including limited service and aging infrastructure.