WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Connecticut Department of Transportation will receive a $29.6 million federal grant to improve accessibility at three rail stations on the Metro-North Railroad Waterbury Branch.
The grant is part of $686 million in awards for 15 projects that will result in improvements at 28 rail stations in nine states, said Nuria Fernandez, administrator of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration, during a zoom call announcing the grants on Monday.
The improvements on the Waterbury branch include retrofitting century-old stations – Ansonia, Beacon Falls, and Seymour – with a high-level rail platform and handrails, making the stations fully accessible to passengers with disabilities.
The grants are funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure law and represent the first round of funding from the new All Stations Accessibility Program, “which is designed to improve the accessibility of transit rail stations so everyone, including those who use wheelchairs, push strollers, or cannot easily navigate stairs, can reliably access the rail systems in their communities,” according to a release.
Inaccessibility is a significant hurdle for riders using rail systems built before 1990, known as “legacy systems,” of which 900 are not fully accessible, according to the release.
“One out of seven Americans has a mobility disability and they will soon be better able to get to work, to school, to the store, to restaurants, stadiums, concerts and anywhere else they need to be in order to contribute and in order to enjoy everyday life,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on the zoom call.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is providing $1.75 billion in funding through 2026 for the rail station improvement projects. Projects were selected based on criteria in the Notice of Funding Opportunity.
In response to the Notice of Funding of Opportunity, FTA received $905 million in funding requests. As a result of this demand, FTA is awarding both the FY 2022 and 2023 competitive grant funding, according to the release.
The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority will receive $254.4 million to make three subway stations in Brooklyn and one subway station in the Bronx fully ADA-accessible. The Chicago Transit Authority will receive $118.5 million to modernize the Irving Park, Belmont and Pulaski stations to make them fully ADA-accessible.