The major push to revitalized Windsor Locks’ downtown hinges on two campaigns: the relocation of the Amtrak train station and the reclamation of the historic train depot. After more than a few years of discussions, it seems both projects are making slow, but steady progress forward.
At a public hearing in September, town residents supported a plan to relocate the proposed location for the new train station just north of the historic train station.
"Restoring the historic train station will give our Main Street its identity back," said Kevin Brace, a Windsor Locks resident among many who are fighting to maintain Windsor Locks' history, as well as look toward the future.
The new Amtrak station would be a part of the impending New Haven - Hartford - Springfield Rail Line. Windsor Locks, being right on that line, would become a key component to its ridership. According to the website dedicated to the project, it would also include a shuttle bus that ran directly from the station to Bradley International Airport.
"There's definitely progress," economic consultant Patrick McMahon said.
"We're waiting on the state, as they have completed their environmental review of the entire corridor. They are waiting for the federal government's response," added McMahon.
Windsor Locks has received a $250,000 state grant to cover the costs associated with the continued study of the relocation. The grant is part of the Transit Orientated Development Funding.
“It’s critical that when the state makes investments in local projects, those investments work in concert with broader state efforts to improve access to transportation and foster economic growth,” OPM Secretary Ben Barnes said. “This is especially important when the state is working hard to do more with less. There are many worthwhile TOD projects around the state, so the basis for these awards had to include how supportive each project was of broader efforts to grow public transportation ridership statewide.”
A review of the Bridge Street intersection, now completed, has helped engineers decide what sort of improvements to the area would be necessary.
"Town engineers are reviewing engineering plans as we speak," said McMahon, who added that he thinks that Amtrak will most likely defer to whatever the state decides.
Funding has come, but more will be needed.
"Allocations have been provided at this point that will provide double tracking up through Windsor," McMahon said, adding that he expects that Windsor Locks will have to obtain additional funding to bring the track up through town to make this a reality. McMahon expects the state to cooperate.
"We were getting a lot of resistance until we met with Governor Malloy last spring," McMahon said. "They are going to pursue the funding. It would make no sense [not to]."
McMahon says that the plan is to attempt to purchase just the historical train station building itself from Amtrak and not the property. He added that they have been placing holiday related decor on the building to "raise awareness to the public that things are starting to move."
A website is being created for a save the historic train station effort.
The next historic train site committee meeting is Tuesday, March 27, at 7 pm in the town hall.