Written by Gail Lavielle Thursday, 15 April 2010 00:00
Every year, the Connecticut Public Transportation Commission tours the state to listen to residents and public officials discuss how they get from place to place or, often, how they wish they could. The commission holds a series of public hearings both in the spring and in the fall, and there is usually one within easy reach of Wilton. This spring, it’s at Danbury City Hall, on April 20 at 7:30 p.m. Everyone who is interested in mass transit and related subjects is invited to come and raise issues, express concerns or contribute new ideas.
If public transportation is important to you, this is an opportunity to raise awareness of our region’s issues and to influence policy. Drawing on input from its hearings, the Public Transportation Commission presents a set of recommendations on transportation priorities in its annual report, which it circulates to the Department of Transportation, the governor, and the Transportation Committee of the General Assembly. For matters it considers more urgent, the commission can also pass resolutions at its monthly meetings and communicate them immediately.
How do these recommendations and resolutions influence decisions about transportation on the state and regional levels? Last May’s hearing in Norwalk is a good recent example. Testimony by Wilton residents and public officials led the commission to pass a resolution the following month urging the DOT to open the Wilton station as soon as possible. This provided valuable support for First Selectman Bill Brennan’s persistent and successful efforts to convey the importance of the situation for our community to the DOT and to obtain its commitment for opening the station this fall. Earlier this year, another recommendation in the commission’s annual report led the City of Waterbury to rethink plans for its bus system and intermodal transit center.
Although the commission does not set an agenda for its hearings, it does provide guidance by identifying issues that are especially relevant for specific regions. At our Danbury hearing, we invite you particularly to share your thoughts about electronic highway tolls at the state’s borders; further improvements to the Danbury branch line, including electrification and extending the line to New Milford; bike and walking trails, including the proposal to develop a trail linking Norwalk and Danbury; rail station parking; existing and potential area bus service; and transit-oriented development.
The April 20 public hearing in Danbury is your chance to be an advocate for Wilton’s and Fairfield County’s mass transit needs. Your ideas can help the DOT and our elected representatives develop transportation solutions that can alleviate congestion on our roads, reduce fuel emissions, improve the commuting experience, and make Wilton and our surrounding towns even better places to work and live.
Even if you can’t attend the hearing, the commission would be very pleased to hear from you. You may submit your comments and ideas in writing to Dennis J. King, CPTC Liaison, P.O. Box 317546, Newington, CT 06131-7546. Or send me an e-mail email@example.com.
Ms. Lavielle is a member of the Connecticut Public Transportation Commission.