Rail station parking plan delayed

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
Jan. 30, 2008

GUILFORD — Despite an overflowing parking lot at the town’s Shore Line East train station, funding for the construction of additional parking areas has been delayed until at least 2009, according to town officials and the South Central Connecticut Regional Council of Governments.

The $1.3 million project was scheduled to start construction in 2008, but is now set for the 2009-2010 fiscal year, according to SCRCOG documents. The work, to add 150 new parking spaces on the north side of the train tracks, was originally supposed to take place in 2006.

First Selectman Carl Balestracci said state Department of Transportation officials told him that there is not enough funding to start work on the project now. The price tag is made up of federal and state dollars run through the DOT’s Transportation Improvement Program.

“The plan is still on the table,” Balestracci said. “As soon as they get approval for the funding, we’ve been assured that they’ll move on it as quickly as possible because this is a priority, or it’s been stated it was a priority by the governor.”

DOT officials did not return calls for comment Tuesday.

Balestracci said that the station’s parking lot, which has about 250 spaces, is often at capacity on weekdays. When the lot is full, some commuters park on a nearby area covered with gravel and bark, which Balestracci said is Amtrak property.

“Off and on, there’s been a problem there — Amtrak doesn’t want the liability of having people park on their property,” he said.

Guilford’s train station, located on Old Whitfield Street, opened in November 2005. Creating a residential area around the train station is the cornerstone of the Town Center South plan, which the Planning and Zoning Commission approved in September.

Balestracci said that representatives from the town, SCRCOG and a company consulting with DOT have begun meeting to discuss a traffic study for the area around the train station. He added that additional parking spaces would solve some of the traffic problems in the area.

“(The lack of parking) makes it difficult at the present time for those people who are regular commuters,” he said. “The parking lot … would make for a much more user-friendly station.”

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