ConnDOT: Governor Rell Reopens Southport Train Station

FOR RELEASE: March 2, 2009
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Governor Rell Reopens Southport Train Station

Governor M. Jodi Rell today formally reopened the recently rebuilt Southport train station in Fairfield, just one year after it was heavily damaged by fire. Governor Rell was joined in a ceremony at the station by officials from the Department of Transportation, Senator John McKinney and local leaders.


          “When fire first ripped through this historic building, state and local officials – working together – declared it a priority to rebuild and restore it to its original beauty and character,” Governor Rell said. “Now this magnificently restored facility combines the historic design with modern conveniences for our commuters.”


          The Southport station, which dates from the late 1800s, underwent approximately $3 million in restoration.


          The station was closed on January 4, 2008, after the fire. Immediately afterward, Governor Rell directed the DOT to provide temporary shelter for commuters and determine the fastest way to replace the structure. The DOT provided a temporary waiting room and restrooms and train service resumed the day after the blaze.


          “If the state had decided to knock down this building and build a new station, we would not be standing here today, a year later, cutting a ribbon to open it to the public,” the Governor said. “I thank Senator McKinney, First Selectman Kenneth Flatto, the DOT and the various historic societies who help return this structure to its original grandeur.”


          Senator McKinney said, “It is great to have Governor Rell in Southport to mark this important occasion. In the days immediately following last year’s fire, it didn’t seem likely that this historic train station would ever look or operate the same. But thanks to the prompt attention of local firefighters and the efforts of Governor Rell, the DOT and Metro-North, not only were we able to keep the trains running on time, we have successfully preserved the character of this historic 19th-century building.”


          DOT, which owns the train station and leases it to the Town of Fairfield for daily operations, issued an emergency declaration to expedite the work and opted to restore the station in a manner consistent with its historic status, modifying the building as necessary to comply with current building codes. The Department hired Banton Construction to do the work.


          Restoration work included repairs to the building foundation, new interior and exterior walls matching the historic finishes, window and door trim, replacement of wainscot on walls, new ADA-compliant access to the foyer, ADA-compliant rest rooms and baby changing area, lighting, underground utilities, a new heating and ventilation system, thermally efficient windows and insulation and a fire alarm system.


          “From the start, the Department of Transportation responded in a timely fashion to address the needs of commuters in the Southport area,” said DOT Commissioner Joseph F. Marie. “Rehabilitation was faster and less expensive than rebuilding a new rail station, providing a unique opportunity for this historic structure to be returned to its original stature while providing modern amenities. Rail stations, just like the rail car fleet and rail service, are a part of the total rail service improvements the Department strives to provide to our customers.”


          The DOT relied on information provided by the Southport Conservancy, the Sasquanaug Association and the Fairfield Historical Society in its restoration effort.


          “Restoring this facility has preserved the historic integrity of the local community while providing convenience to rail customers who travel from this area,” Governor Rell said. “Often it’s the ‘problem’ projects that get the headlines, but from the start this project showcased the ingenuity of the DOT and its ability to work with the local community to provide the best for our rail customers.”