NORWALK, Conn. — In an opinion five years in the making, the Connecticut Department of Transportation recommends against creating a Wall Street train station.
Last week, the State released ConnDOT’s 104-page report, funded in 2017 by a $250,000 State grant. The report was completed in July but City officials met with ConnDOT for a final discussion Oct. 21, according to a PowerPoint presentation provided to NancyOnNorwalk by Norwalk Chief of Economic and Community Development Jessica Vonashek.
“The City of Norwalk thanks CT DOT for conducting a thorough analysis to consider the feasibility of reestablishing a train station in the Wall Street corridor. After examining five locations in the area, their study determined that a station is not feasible,” Vonashek said. “While we are disappointed with the conclusion of their report, we are grateful for the time and effort they spent exploring the potential return of a Wall Street train station.”
She directed Norwalk citizen to contact the State for explanations, continuing, “For questions related to the report, please contact Elise Greenberg, the Project Lead of the Wall Street Station Feasibility Study, who serves as the Supervising Transportation Planner at the Office of Strategic Planning and Projects for CT DOT. She can be reached at [email protected]”
The study came after Mike McGuire, owner of a Wall Street office building, campaigned to get a Wall Street train station. McGuire declined to comment. Wall Street Neighborhood Association (WSNA) President Marc Alan said he needed time to “fully digest the report.”
The Wall Street area once had a train station, under Wall Street. It was said to have been destroyed in the 1955 flood and not rebuilt.
ConnDOT, in the study prepared by AECOM Technical Services Inc., states that it completed upgrades to modernize the Danbury Line, including a signalization system, and then worked with the City “to examine potentially restoring a rail stop in the Wall Street area. The Wall Street area had rail service from 1860 until around the 1930’s when the station stop was closed and service converted to bus.”
ConnDOT looked at environmental, physical, demographic, and economic/TOD (Transit Oriented Development) conditions, doing preliminary engineering and high-level cost estimates on four locations initially identified as possible train station sites: Cross Street, 18 River St., 47 Wall St. and 17 Isaacs St., the former Garden Cinemas property. As the study progressed, a fifth possible location was identified, combining the Cross Street and River Street sites together to create a station over the river itself.
In summary, ConnDOT states:
- “The analysis shows that due to factors/limitations of physical, operational, and cost, none of the original four station alternatives evaluated are viable.
- “However, a fifth or Hybrid site is the most ‘constructable’ alternative.
- “Based on the service assumptions and ridership forecasting, a Wall Street Station would not generate substantial new ridership and would instead draw ridership from other nearby stations.
- “The Wall Street area is currently well-served by existing transit, including both bus and microtransit.
- “If expanded transit opportunities are desired near Wall Street or in the vicinity of Wall Street, priority should be given to optimize and expand existing transit services.
- “This could be done at a lower cost than rail while offering a better frequency of service.”
It would cost $59-62 million to build a station to modern standards, ConnDOT states.
“A smaller investment into existing transit/microtransit systems could likely create a focused and highly effective shuttle service within the study area that links to the main line and points north of Danbury. The frequency of service and the flexibility of routing that can be accomplished with bus-transit solutions can be provided at a fraction of the cost of a train station,” the study states.
Given that Norwalk already has four train stations, a Wall Street station would simply shift existing Danbury line riders, ConnDOT states. The station would inspire about 635 new daily motor vehicle trips to the area.
A new train station would add four to eight minutes to the route, the study said. It notes that the Danbury Line is a 24.2-mile-long branch of the New Haven Line (NHL) with seven existing stations, not including its terminus in South Norwalk. The passenger schedule consists of 28 weekday trains between Danbury and South Norwalk, an increase from 22 weekday trains in 2009, and only eight of those rides go directly from Danbury to Manhattan. Other riders transfer onto or off of the Danbury Line via South Norwalk.
The additional stop in the Wall Street area would add “one minute for dwell time, as well as additional time for acceleration and deceleration of the train,” the study states. The branch line is single main track with three short sidings between the Wall Street area and Danbury, allowing trains to pass each other.
“The single-track alignment requires a precise operation to avoid delays and to maintain reasonable travel times, as long waits at passing sidings greatly lengthen overall travel times. Therefore, the train schedules are carefully arranged to time the train ‘meets’ at the siding locations to minimize wait times,” the study states. “…Deviations from these times for just one or two trains could impact the entire schedule.”
Additional siding could cost $12-13 million.
“The lengthened running times would also reduce the amount of already limited time the train has to reverse direction or ‘turn’ at Danbury,” ConnDOT states. “Train crews need sufficient time to perform mandated safety checks before each run and safely orient the train back toward South Norwalk. The schedule may be impacted in order to maintain time for the safety checks.”
Correction, 2:53 p.m.: Report released by State. Updated, 7:10 p.m.: More information.