All Aboard! If You Can Find a Parking Space

I see the station building is finally going up on Railroad Avenue (how fitting) and Sawmill Road for our city’s new train station. How exciting! I’ve been wondering what is going on with the train station and when it will be open for business. So I called West Haven Train Station Committee Chairman Michael Mercuriano to see what I could find out. I also called our city’s public information office for an update, and I’ll get to that in a minute.

Mr. Mercuriano has been working to push this project forward for more than a decade. He had an enormous amount of history to share with me. But in speaking with him, the thing I find most curious about the project is the fact that our train station originally had a 1,200 space parking garage to go along with it, and now it only has a surface parking lot with 660 spaces. The number of spaces has been cut in half. Huh? What happened?

I have the occasion to take the train into the Big Apple every so often. Trying to find parking in either Milford or New Haven is horrible depending on day of the week and time – and the New Haven station has a large parking garage. It’s a crap shoot because there are more commuters than there are parking spaces at those two stations. It is a well-known problem.

So why in the world would West Haven agree to forgo the parking garage? Mayor Picard has not championed this train station even though it has the potential to give a shot in the arm to our city’s weak economic development. He did not fight for the garage, even though the West Haven Chamber of Commerce wrote a letter in April 2010 to Jody Rell, the governor at the time, “beseeching” her to “do everything in your power to ensure that the Parking Garage becomes a reality for our citizens.” All the businesses in West Haven want the parking garage yet Mayor Picard has done nothing to help make that happen. Hmmm, why is that?

One thought I had would be that the mayor has a developer friend who could benefit by putting up a garage as part of the Armstrong project, across the street from the train station. There are hush hush plans in the works for that site. I tried to find out what was going on there from Michael Walsh, West Haven’s Public Information Officer, but he would only tell me that there are “active plans. . . details are forthcoming.” If there are active plans for the Armstrong site, I believe that the residents of West Haven have a right to know what they are.

Another potential wrinkle in the success of West Haven’s train station is the news that the way has been cleared to fund a train station in Orange, potentially at the Dichello Distributors site. That’s only just about a mile from the West Haven station. Luckily for West Haven the Orange station is still a few years away because there are still a number of hurdles that need to be cleared for it to move forward.

Originally the West Haven Train Station was slated for completion in the winter of 2013. The good news is that the train station is way ahead of schedule. While I was misinformed by Mr. Walsh that is was “on track to open in 2013″ and to check with the Department of Transportation for details, I have it on very good authority that the station will be open for business in August 2012. I can’t wait to finally be able to take the train into New York City from my own city. I only hope I can find a parking space.

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11 Responses to All Aboard! If You Can Find a Parking Space

  1. John says:

    August 2012? Seriously? Wow thats fast.

  2. John says:

    Do we have any idea how parking will work? Will there be a daily fee? Yearly pass?

  3. Desiree says:

    I recently heard that, although the developer was on pace to complete this project much earlier than anticipated, August 2012 is definitely not going to happen. Something pertinent to the foundation of the project area must be redone, so we are looking at having an operating station by the end of this year. I guess you really did have the August 2012 date on good authority. Had it not been for this recent development, I would have been boarding the train from West Haven this summer. Darn. *Recently stumbled upon your blog. I’ve added it to my favorites and check up with your regularly. Thank you.

    • Thank you for your comment. I got the August 2012 date from a source at Metro North. Tonight at midnight the cross over bridge will be installed. It will be great when we can take the train from West Haven. It can’t happen soon enough!

  4. Chris barstein says:

    First off… Fast?? The empire state building was done in 18 months. Only a state funded project could take this long and cost this much. Second… The only economic impact will be for dunkin donuts. It’s a multi-million dollar convenience, nothing more.

  5. West Haven Resident says:

    Chris, this train station will make a huge impact on this diverse town. You have a lot of public housing and a lot of public transit reliant people here. My family, located halfway between the Milford and New Haven train stations, and with one of the breadwinners working in Manhattan— you can bet that this is more than a “convenience.”

    Everybody seems bitter b/c public works can be a little wasteful with all the friendly deals and such that go on. But they are still public works. We pay for them and they are ours, and they make our community better. Did you not learn to share in kindergarten?

    And as for the wastefulness, I challenge you to build a similar train station at the same cost. Ready? Go.

  6. Chris Barstein says:

    You’re taking my comments out of context. It will certainly have an enormous benefit for those members of our community that currently need to use either the Milford or New Haven stations. What I was referring to was economic benefit to the City of West Haven, which I still believe will be miniscule. As for the “wastefulness”, again you’ve taken a comment out of context. My point was that we didn’t need a station of that magnitude. I’ve taken the train to Stamford for years and you can look along the route and see what most communities have for a station: platforms and a coffee kiosk. We did not need, nor do the circumstances warrant, a station of this magnitude. Therefore it is wasteful. Lastly, I wish I could have the opportunity to prove you wrong, but I doubt I’ll have the opportunity to build a station for you.

  7. Honoria Rhodes says:

    Looks like 2013 after all…

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