Before leaving office former Gov. M. Jodi Rell tried to get the state Bond Commission to agree to borrow $81.5 million to finish its purchase of the new M-8 rail cars for the Metro North Line, but Democratic lawmakers on the Bond Commission argued that it should be left up Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration.
According to next week’s Bond Commission agenda, Malloy thinks the state should borrow what is now $81.6 million to purchase the last 38 cars.
In a phone interview Friday, Malloy said he had nothing to do with the decision of two Democratic lawmakers to block the item in December when it was on Rell’s agenda.
“There’s nothing nefarious about it I can assure you of that,” Malloy said.
He said his decision to include the purchase of the rail cars on his first Bond Commission agenda is based on the fact the state needs them and the longer it waits to buy them, the more it will cost the state.
Former Rep. Cameron Staples, D-New Haven, who voted against the purchase of the rail cars during Rell’s last month in office argued that the deadline to exercise the option to purchase the cars is 2012 and the escalator or monthly price, per car that gets added for every month the state decides not to purchase the cars has been there for four years, so waiting until Malloy is in office won’t do much harm.
Malloy is now officially in office and wants to move forward with the purchase.
The state has already purchased 342 rail cars and has received 24 of them according to the Transportation Department’s spokesman Kevin Nursick.
The Transportation Department had originally projected that at least some of the new M-8 rail cars would be in service by the end of this month, but none of them are in service as of today. Several software and mechanical glitches are being worked on, Nursick said Friday.
Malloy said he’s not concerned about the delay in getting the cars into service. He said he predicted that it wouldn’t happen by 2011 when the announcement was made several years ago that the state planned on purchasing the cars.
“When you have a new car there’s a shakeup that has to take place,” Malloy said.
Nursick said putting a new rail car on a track isn’t like putting a new automobile on an asphalt road.
“There’s a lot of testing that has to take place,” Nursick said. Then once the testing is done the rail cars have to run flawlessly for 4,000 miles before carrying a paying customer. “It’s expected that there would be bumps in the road with a purchase like this.”
The 380 new rail cars will replace the 40 year old cars currently on the Metro North Rail Line.
And the 38 new rail cars aren’t the only thing on Malloy’s Bond Commission agenda for next Thursday.
The agenda, which looks to borrow about $73.6 million in general obligation bonds, keeps with Malloy’s philosophy that the state should be borrowing for infrastructure and capital improvements.
Each of the 27 items on the agenda detail how many construction jobs the projects will create, in addition to specifics about the projects, which range from road repairs to a new criminal justice software system to improvements to the state’s university system infrastructure.
The state Bond Commission meeting will be held Thursday, Jan. 27.