ConnDOT: DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION CONTINUES WORK ON RESTORING WILLIMANTIC BRANCH FOR FREIGHT RAIL SERVICE

 
 

CONNECTICUT DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

NEWS RELEASE

2800 BERLIN TURNPIKE P.O. BOX 317546 NEWINGTON CONNECTICUT 06131-7546

FOR RELEASE: 2/8/2006
 
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS
TELEPHONE: (860) 594-3062
Fax: (860) 594-3066
HOME-PAGE:www.ct.gov/dot
 
 

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION CONTINUES WORK ON RESTORING WILLIMANTIC BRANCH

FOR FREIGHT RAIL SERVICE

 

 

Public Hearing Scheduled for Wednesday, February 28, 2007

at 5:00 p.m. Windham Town Hall

 

 

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) today announced that continued progress is being made on restoring the Willimantic Branch line for freight rail service. ConnDOT has been evaluating the railroad/highway crossings along the Willimantic Branch, including inspections of the existing traffic control devices at the crossing.  The railroad crossing signals have been approved for service and are fully operational.

 

“Safety is our number one concern when reactivating any rail service in the state.  The Department has been proactive, reaching out to the community from the beginning to keep everyone apprised of our efforts to restore the Willimantic Branch,” said Commissioner Ralph J. Carpenter.

 

The reactivation of the three at-grade crossings is part of the restoration of freight service on the Willimantic Branch from the Versailles Yard to the Willimantic yard. They are located at Route 97 (Main Street), Route 138 (Bushnell Hollow Road) in Sprague and Route 203 (Windham Center Road) in Windham.

 

The exempt signs at the railroad/highway at-grade crossings are now being removed. ConnDOT posted the signs two weeks earlier at the crossings to notify the public of the change in status.  These signs will remain posted at the crossing until Thursday, February 22.

 

 “In June of last year, the DOT held a public regional informational meeting providing details on the reactivation. Now, as we are nearing the return of freight service on this branch, we are committed to informing the town officials and residents of our actions,” said Eugene J. Colonese, Rail Administrator.  “The posting of signs at the three crossings helps notify drivers that these crossings will soon host freight train service, and to proceed with caution.”

 

The Town of Windham has requested a public hearing be held on the Route 203 (Windham Center Road) crossing. The hearing will be Wednesday, February 28, at 5:00 p.m. in Windham Town Hall, 979 Main Street, Willimantic, CT  06226.

 

Providence & Worcester (P&W) Railroad is returning revenue service on the Willimantic Branch Freight Rail Line.  This hearing will not determine if P&W Railroad can operate in the area; P&W already has the right to do so.  The state will be conducting a hearing to determine if additional safety measures are necessary at the crossing.  P&W Railroad is planning on operating two train movements weekly at speeds between 10 and 40 miles per hour through the crossing.

 

            “The steps being taken do not necessarily mean that freight rail service will begin this month.  The Department’s focus is to provide area residents with adequate notice to be aware of the future activities, so they can keep safety their first concern at these crossings,” said Gilbert Smart, Supervising Rail Officer, Rail Regulatory.

 

Operation Lifesaver, a federal and state rail safety program, has been in contact with the local school bus and fuel companies regarding education and outreach to the area.  P&W Railroad currently runs freight service through the Towns of Plainfield, Canterbury and Lisbon, and plans to continue service through the Towns of Sprague, Scotland and Windham.