The Putnam Examiner

Study of Southeast-Danbury Rail Line Chugging Along

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The creation of a Town of Southeast-City of Danbury rail line was revisited during the Dec. 17 meeting of the Putnam County Legislature’s Audit and Administration Committee meeting.

Committee Chairman Bill Gouldman, R-Putnam Valley, said there will be no financial impact for the county in 2019 or 2020 for participating in an $800,000 study, which is being funded by the federal government.

“I think we have an incredible opportunity,” said Putnam Transportation Manager Vincent Tamagna. “We have this rail line that’s been dead since at least 2007. And I think we really need to explore all possible options. I think there’s great potential for Putnam County and also Danbury.”

Although Legislator Nancy Montgomery, D-Philipstown, said she supports the concept of the rail link, Montgomery noted that she is concerned about an annual $15,000 stipend for project management, saying “not a lot of information” has been given about the project.

For example, she said she wants to know how the job description for the project manager – Tamagna – will be decided.

The county’s Physical Services Committee also discussed the study last week, with committee Chairman Carl Albano, R-Carmel, explaining “this is a very complicated study.”

The county will be working with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the City of Danbury on the study, and the county needs a project manager to represent the interests of Putnam, he told Montgomery.

Albano said the $15,000 stipend was pro-rated for $5,000 for this year for the study, which was approved by the MTA in the fall. The stipend, which will be the full $15,000 in 2020, will be spent on Tamagna’s continuing work on the study, as well as another $45,000 spent this year for in-kind services related to the study.

County Commissioner of Planning, Development and Public Transportation Sandra Fusco told the committee that Putnam is “just one player for this major project.” As project manager, she said Tamagna will be bringing all the parties together.

“It’s a very good fit and a necessary fit,” she said.

County Sheriff Robert. Langley Jr. said the new rail line would open up additional parking spaces at the Southeast Metro-North station parking lot, and would reduce traffic and traffic accidents in the area.

“I’d love to see this project go through,” he said. “It would be a benefit to the community.”

“This is an exciting project for the people of the Town of Southeast,” added Legislator Paul Jonke, R-Southeast. One of the benefits will be a reduction of traffic in the Route 6 area, he said.

Langley asked for a timetable for the completion of the study, to which Fusco said the feasibility study is expected to take between two and three years to complete.

The committee voted unanimously to submit to the full Legislature the budget transfer to pay for the $5,000 stipend for 2019 and the acceptance of the $800,000 federal grant for the study in the revenue line of the budget.

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