(Updated 5:08 p.m.) Outgoing Gov. M. Jodi Rell decided to call a special Bond Commission meeting Dec. 22, to approve some items that did not receive enough support last week, but the most controversial item with the biggest price tag is missing from the agenda.
The more than $81 million Rell wanted to borrow to finish the purchase of the M-8 rail cars did not make the list of projects.
Earlier this week Rell touted her commitment to transportation and cited the 342 rail cars the state has already purchased as a victory toward getting the state moving again. The more than $81 million for 38 new rail cars would have completed the purchase, but at least three members of the Bond Commission voted against it.
Lawyers spent days arguing over whether the item received enough support to pass and finally concluded it fell one vote short of being approved. Lt. Gov.-elect Nancy Wyman and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal skipped the meeting because they didn’t want to burden Gov.-elect Dan Malloy’s administration with more debt for projects that may not be part of his vision.
“I’m extremely disappointed,” Rell said Wednesday. But it was clear the rail car funding would not get the requisite six ‘yes’ votes from the commission in order to pass it.
Two Democratic lawmakers on the Bond Commission argued last week that the purchased doesn’t need to be done yet and can wait until the new administration takes office.
“The Governor decides which projects end up on the Bond Commission agenda, and which ones do not,“ Colleen Flanagan, Malloy’s spokeswoman said. “As there is only one Governor at a time, it makes little sense to comment on specific projects at this time.”
Department of Transportation officials at last week’s Bond Commission meeting told the commission that a few of the rail cars have been tested mostly at night and were unable to say how many successfully made it to Central Station in New York City.
An article in the Stamford Advocate Wednesday details the problems the Department of Transportation and Metro-North Railroad have been having with the new cars. The problems have pushed the debut of the cars back a week or more according to DOT officials.
“While we had expected that revenue service would begin before the end of December, an electrical interference problem has emerged that must be addressed before we can get the cars into service,” DOT Commissioner Jeffrey Parker said Wednesday. “We have found a way to resolve this issue and we hope to have it completely implemented some time next week.”
Sen. Don DeFronzo and Sen. Bob Duff expressed their frustration with the progress of the cars in a press release Wednesday afternoon.
“We are extremely disappointed that the debut of the M8 cars has again been delayed,“ the two said. “While we fully support the need for safety and reliability, another delay affects our constituents directly. Over and over, they have been told one thing, only to find that the situation again changes. We have a responsibility to provide quality service on this line, the busiest rail line in the country.”
They said the glitches are all the more reason to postpone the purchase of more cars.