Hartford (Griffin Line Corridor)

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Griffin Line Corridor

Hartford, Connecticut

(November 1996)

Description

The Greater Hartford Transit District (GHTD) is planning a light rail transit (LRT) line from downtown Hartford and several city neighborhoods to suburban towns to the north, ultimately reaching Bradley International Airport (16 miles total).


Phase I includes 12 miles of LRT in rail right-of-way owned by the State of Connecticut (9.2 miles) and a portion owned by Amtrak as well as a segment at grade on city streets in downtown Hartford. Economic development, and community revitalization plans, as well as clustered mixed use land plans have been prepared around each of the station stops. Average daily ridership is projected at 15,200 in the year 2010. Phase 1 of the project is estimated to cost $249.7 million (1994 dollars).

Status

The Griffin Line Corridor Major Investment Study (MIS) was adopted by the Capitol Region Council of Governments (the MPO) in July 1995, including the selection of the light rail option as the locally preferred alternative. A Task Force of public and private sector representatives prepared a financing plan in 1996.

The project was not authorized in ISTEA. Through FY 1997, Congress appropriated $0.99 million toward preliminary engineering (PE) and EIS. The project sponsors anticipate beginning PE in early to mid 1997.

Justification

Mobility Improvements - The Griffin Line LRT would provide mobility benefits to both the suburban commuter travel market and to major concentrations of transportation disadvantaged persons. Phase 1 projections are that the LRT would have 15,200 riders per day increasing to 78,500 daily system transit trips in 2010. This includes the 12 mile LRT segment. By comparison, the TSM alternative would handle 73,500 trips and the No-Build alternative 71,900. The project is expected to save 2,400 hours of travel time per day (compared with the TSM alternative). LRT would provide access to 75 percent of the corridor's suburban jobs compared to 30 percent currently accessible by transit service.


Cost Effectiveness - The cost-effectiveness index for the Phase 1 12-mile segment is $13 per new rider, compared to the TSM alternative.


Operating Efficiencies - The system-wide operating cost per passenger in year 2010 (1994 dollars) is estimated to be $1.46 for Phase I, compared to $1.39 for the TSM alternative.


Environmental Benefits - The Capitol Region is classified as "serious" non-attainment for ozone and as a "moderate" non-attainment area for carbon monoxide. The MIS found that the LRT alternative would produce the greatest air quality benefits of all the alternatives. LRT would contribute to long term improvements in the region's air quality by supporting the Downtown Hartford Major Employers Parking Policy and by supporting clustered, mixed-use developments at station stops, thereby reducing long term reliance on cars.

Local
Financial
Commitment

Hartford is requesting a Section 5309 New Start funding share of $149.8 million, or 60 percent of project costs. The financing plan anticipates $62.4 million from the State from a combination of bonds backed by the State fuel tax and State general revenues. Regional funding ($10 million) is planned on the basis of proposed Regional Asset District state legislation and local benefit improvement district revenues, private sector funding of Phase I is projected to total $27.5 million including donation of right-of-way and major joint development projects at a number of station stops, with the cost of station and parking facilities incorporated into the privately funded development projects.


Operating funds are anticipated from a combination of State fuel taxes, as well as private sector, regional and local sources noted above.


Negotiations are underway with State, regional and local officials and the private sector. A final capital and operating cost funding plan is anticipated to be one of the products of the Preliminary Engineering and EIS work scheduled for completion by the end of 1998.