Status of Crossing Gate Installation on Plainfield Street in Hartford
Status of Crossing Gate Installation on Plainfield Street in Hartford
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OLR Research Report  

August 13, 1999



By: James J. Fazzalaro, Principal Analyst

You asked for an update of any Department of Transportation (DOT) plans to install crossing protection devices at Plainfield Street on the Griffins Industrial Line in Hartford.

The correspondence you provided establishes the following context for your question. Early in 1999, the DOT reached an agreement with Home Depot, which is opening a facility in Bloomfield along the Griffins Industrial Line, under which each would pay approximately $ 400,000 for installing automatic gates and other crossing protection at Park Avenue and Cottage Grove Road as a requirement for the restoration of daily freight service on the line. This service would primarily exist for the Home Depot operation. Home Depot subsequently was able to get Bloomfield to agree to pay for 75% of its financial commitment, which Bloomfield did through a $ 300,000 state loan.

In an April 5, 1999 letter to Ms. Jean Pottinger which you provided to us, Harry Harris, the Chief of the DOT's Bureau of Public Transportation stated, "If there is a balance of funds following completion of the improvements at Cottage Grove Road and Park Avenue, a third crossing will be upgraded. Plainfield Street, adjacent to the Fischer Elementary School, is a likely candidate for upgrading if a balance is available. " Harris' letter indicates that the state's funding for the grade crossing protection projects was coming from federal funds specifically provided for crossing improvements.

Your background materials indicate that shortly after this letter was written, DOT held a public hearing with regard to crossing gates and protective devices that were being proposed for another Griffins Line crossing location―Garden Street in Hartford. The materials also indicate that ultimately, no funding was apparently leftover from the two other projects. (Pottinger letter to Governor Roland dated April 27, 1999. )

According to Raymond Godcher, chief of DOT's Office of Rail Operations, DOT remains committed to providing the crossing protection at Plainfield Street as referred to in the Harris letter, but the project is not yet in the design phase. It will be paid for from DOT's bond authorization for public transportation purposes. He estimates that it will be from 12 to 18 months before the project is completed and in the meantime trains will operate under "stop and protect" orders. This requires the train to stop at the crossing and a crewmember to provide protection for traffic while the train uses the crossing.

As far as the Garden Street project is concerned, Godcher said that it was being done as a late addition to an intersection improvement project a short distance away from the grade crossing. As planning and design for the intersection were nearing completion, DOT determined that crossing protection improvements should be included in the larger project and coordinated with the intersection signalization. If this was not done, it was felt that trains could interfere with traffic flow since they might wind up blocking the street while the traffic lights a short distance away showed green.

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