BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — In what lawmakers are calling a “game-changer” for one beleaguered Bridgeport neighborhood, the U.S. Department of Transportation will provide $10 million for the state to complete the planning and designing for a second city train station.
“This is going to be the catalyst to reinvigorate this side of Bridgeport,” U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said Monday at the site. “People are going to be coming here from throughout the region.”
The plans call for the train station to be built at 812 Barnum Ave., not far from Bridgeport Hospital and the new Bass Pro Shops set to open Nov. 18.
Once completed, the new Barnum Station will provide both local and Amtrak stops, including the high-speed Acela, officials said Monday as they gathered at the site.
The project is one of 39 federally funded transportation projects to receive money through the department’s highly competitive Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) 2015 program.
Those gathered to announce the funding Monday said the train station will likely bring more development around the site. The area is surrounded by empty buildings, many of which have sustained fires over the years. Developers building about 100 units of affordable housing on the other side of the tracks chose the site because of the promise of the convenient train station, said Mayor Bill Finch.
The 8-acre train station parcel, where Remington once fashioned armaments, was an empty lot with a dilapidated building on it, Finch said. The owners owed $13 million in back taxes, so the city went to court and won the land in a settlement, he said.
Plans for the new train station call for widening the existing tracks to accommodate two center island platforms, constructing an underpass tunnel and modifying roadways. The project plans were an outcome of a Housing and Urban Development Sustainable Communities planning grant.
The total project is expected to cost $146.1 million, according to the DOT.
East Side residents are likely to welcome the station, said U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). About a third of neighborhood residents do not own cars and annual household income in the area is about $10,000 less than the Bridgeport average, he said.
“It has not made any sense that Bridgeport has only one train stop,” Murphy said. “This is going to be a catalyst for residential development, commercial development. … This is a game-changer for Bridgeport.”
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