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    Plan to build new rail lines on New Haven's Waterfront Street under way

    NEW HAVEN — The plan to tear up Waterfront Street and install new rail lines is under way, according to the state Department of Transportation, which announced this week it found a low bidder for the project.

    The project, which is part of the I-95/ Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge project, went out to bid in May and according to the DOT, the apparent low bidder is RED Technologies of Bloomfield. DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick said once the award is given, which will occur at the end of this month, construction will begin around mid-August. Nursick expected the award to go to RED Technologies but said the DOT has to undergo due diligence before that is final.

    Judith Sheiffele, executive director of the New Haven Port Authority, explained that the city’s port had working rail lines until the Tomlinson Bridge was redone and regulations mandated trains and motor vehicles could not share a travel lane. So the businesses that could thrive off of train tracks were stuck using trucks to transport their materials.

    The plans for the rail line project were submitted to the DOT in 2008, but at the time, the state didn’t have funding to complete the project. In March, the state finally announced that the project, which they are overseeing, was going out to bid. The cost for the road construction will be approximately $3.9 million, according to Nursick.

    During project construction, the non-functional track running down Waterfront Street will be ripped out, new drainage equipment will be installed, and new rail spurs will be laid down before the final layer of asphalt coats the road, according to Nursick.

    Waterfront Street will remain open during the work, but there will be some “minor, short-term detouring.”

    The rail spurs will link four business to the main line, including Gulf, Magellan and Gateway terminals, as well as the north gate of the New Haven Terminal. The New Haven terminal already has a spur, but Sheiffele said the new spur could lead to a biofuel plant.

    “We are concerned about providing enough in the way of infrastructure improvements … this is the key to bringing in more types of cargo,” said Sheiffele. “We are never going to eliminate truck traffic completely. Anything that isn’t traveling at least 100 miles is not cost effective. But this is also an opportunity to bring in raw materials.”

    Providence and Worcester Railroad Co. will install the spurs up to the property lines of the businesses and then the businesses are responsible for completing them. The rail line installation will cost another $1.5 million on top of the road reconstruction cost, according to Nursick. Both parts of the project are funded with about 90 percent federal dollars and 10 percent state money.

    “It’s all about maximizing the efficiency of the state’s busiest port,” said Nursick. Continued...

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    The road construction and rail lines will be complete around the summer of 2013.

    Contact Alexandra Sanders at 203-789-5714. Follow her on Twitter @asanders88. To receive breaking news first, text the word NHNEWS to 22700. *Msg & Data Rates May Apply. Text HELP for help. Text STOP to cancel.

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