State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) is urging commuters to submit testimony for a public hearing Friday on a bill that would reallocate already authorized bonds for transportation infrastructure projects on the Danbury Branch Line of Metro-North. She introduced HB 6553, which has the bipartisan support of 11 other state House members who represent towns on and near the Danbury line.

“With this bill, I wanted to take a different approach to securing long-awaited funding for badly needed improvements to the branch line that extends from Norwalk to Danbury,” Lavielle said in a press release.

“This bill has the support of legislators from both parties in the towns on and near the Danbury Line. Given the state's precarious financial situation, we feel that it is unlikely that any bill requesting the $400 million or more necessary for the full electrification of the branch line would be passed this year. So we are taking the approach of trying to identify other less extensive measures that could improve service in cost-effective ways and to begin, at least, making progress.

“With that objective, we have been meeting with the DOT and the governor's staff to explore these possibilities, and we certainly welcome suggestions from people who travel on the Danbury Line. The language of our bill is not specific in terms of upgrades and costs, to allow for input during the legislative session. If there are things we can do now to improve the daily commute for Danbury Line passengers, rather than making them wait indefinitely for a major upgrade, I believe we must move forward and do them."

The Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee will hear testimony on HB 6553 on Feb. 24, at 11 a.m.

Because it is not convenient for most Fairfield County commuters to attend a public hearing in Hartford, Lavielle suggests those interested submit written testimony by email at fintestimony@cga.ct.gov. Testimony must refer to HB 6553 at the start, and residents must include their name and town. There is no limit on length for written testimony.

The text of the bill is available at https://www.cga.ct.gov/2017/TOB/h/2017HB-06553-R00-HB.htm

Any questions or comments may be directed to Lavielle’s office by calling 860-240-1423 or emailing her at gail.lavielle@cga.ct.gov.