Metro-North track work delays new train station opening
Published 10:10 pm, Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Plans for a ribbon-cutting at the Fairfield Metro train station have been derailed, but this time it's not the fault of the town or state Department of Transportation.
"Metro-North, when it was inspecting the tracks, found an issue with one of its bridges," interim First Selectman Michael Tetreau told Wednesday's Board of Selectmen meeting in response to a question from Selectman James Walsh.
The track repairs, he said, mean Metro-North has to shut down one side of the tracks. "So, it's probably not going to be until Dec. 1," Tetreau said of the projected opening of the town's third railroad station. Since last summer, the state had planned to have a ribbon-cutting at the station at the end of this month.
He said final stages of construction are proceeding on target, though he said the state and United Illuminating are still discussing easements and utility placements.
"Could the DOT and UI discussions delay the opening?" Walsh asked.
"It could," Tetreau said. "You've got the DOT that is used to getting their way negotiating with UI which is used to getting its way. The discussions can get very interesting."
Tetreau said he plans to give a detailed update on Fairfield Metro when the Representative Town Meeting meets at 8 p.m. Monday in Osborn Hill School.
Walsh also asked why it was taking so long for the town to receive a written agreement from the state for the additional $3 million the DOT said it will kick in to help cover $7.5 million in construction cost overruns. "To date, it's close to two months and we don't have an agreement." As a lawyer, Walsh said, he doesn't think it sounds like a complicated document to prepare.
Tetreau said he follows up weekly with the state on the agreement for the extra money.
At this rate Walsh said the current RTM won't have a chance to vote on the agreement. A new RTM will be elected Nov. 8. "It's becoming a little disconcerting," he said.
Tetreau suggested the only thing that might help is if Walsh were to work for the state "and maybe you could move it along."
"I'll stay to the end of my term, unlike Mr. Flatto," Walsh responded, referring to former First Selectman Kenneth Flatto who resigned in May to take a job with the state.
Walsh also asked if there was an update from English & McCarter, the independent legal counsel reviewing the Fairfield Metro agreements, about whether the town could void a "secret side letter agreement" that basically voided the town's rights to collect revenue from parking fees at the station.
Tetreau said the selectmen will hold a private executive session next week to meet with the lawyers to discuss that possibility.