Enfield officials asked state lawmakers Wednesday to put a high-speed rail station in the Thompsonville section of their town.
The local officials who testified at the transportation committee public hearing say they want Enfield to be a stop on the proposed high-speed rail service between New Haven and Springfield. Putting a station in Thompsonville would improve the community’s economy, said town councilman William Edgar Jr.
“Enfield is the hub of north central Connecticut,” Edgar said, explaining that many town residents work in Hartford and in Springfield.
Asnuntuck Community College is also in town, and Thompsonville is located near major roadways like I-91 and Route 5, he said. A rail stop would bring people from surrounding communities to Enfield, he added.
“This station would be a game-changer,” Edgar said.
Another town councilor, William Lee, said it is important for the state to decide to build a station in Enfield now. Doing so would allow the town and state to capitalize on other nearby development projects, he said.
Lee specifically mentioned the Bradley Airport development zone, which was created in 2010 to offer tax incentives for businesses in census blocks in Windsor Locks, Suffield, East Granby and Windsor – areas near Bradley International Airport. He also mentioned that the town could benefit from a casino in Springfield, Mass., if it had a stop on the high-speed rail.
Lori Longhi, a member of Enfield’s planning and zoning commission and a member of the Thompsonville revitalization committee, said it important to know whether Thompsonville will have a stop on the rail line before Enfield starts rezoning that section of town.
Enfield is currently studying zoning regulations in Thompsonville.
All speakers stressed the importance of installing a double-track rail line north of Hartford, saying that they were concerned when they heard there may only be a single track in that area.
“Don’t forget us,” said state Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, explaining that a rail system that does not have all double tracks won’t work. “We’re doing our fair share. The state needs to do its fair share.”
Responding to comments from Enfield officials, Rep. Antonio Guerrera, D-Rocky Hill, said he understands that to have a vital economic engine in Connecticut all communities have to be linked on the rail system. The issue is how to pay for that, said Guerrera, who is co-chairman of the transportation committee.
“We have to be honest with ourselves,” he said. “How do we do this?”
Guerrera said the state cannot rely on the federal government to substantiate all infrastructures in the United States. Both state and local leaders should think outside of the box, he said.
“It’s not just an Enfield issue,” Guerrera said of the high-speed rail proposal. “It’s a state of Connecticut issue.”