The official ribbon cutting was Friday, but the canopies erected over the stairs from the downtown Fairfield Railroad Station to the Unquowa Road overspass have been put to good use in the weeks since they were installed.

The brown metal canopies not only provide shelter for the stairswells, but a stretch of the sidewalk on the Unquowa Road span. The stair coverings were the top request from commuters when they were surveyed several years ago, according to Parking Authority Chairman Ronald Pine.

"The big thing was the canopies and that has been completed," Pine said.

Second on the list was security, and video cameras that feed live surveillance images to the Police Department have also been installed.

The $100,000 cost of the canopy project was paid for with a Small Town Economic Assistance Program grant from the state.

This is the second-busiest stop on the busiest commuter line in the country," First Selectman Michael Tetreau said Friday morning after cutting the red ribbon on the New York-bound side of the station.

The canopies, which provide protection to commuters in inclement weather as well as help keep stairs clear of ice and snow, "helps make it a little more convenient and easier to use" the station, Tetreau said.

The Parking Authority also set aside $35,000 to resurface the concrete stairs, which are beginning to crumble from age and use. The agency also recently used $27,000 of its funds to replace the pavers in the patio on the New Haven side of the rail depot.; 203-556-2771;