The hearing started at 12:30pm on Wednesday, February 11, 2015, in Hartford. The first person to testify on any related bill was Senator Michael McLachlan, Republican from Danbury. He testified on Senator Clark Chapin’s bill which calls for a study of the proposed railway service. Chapin’s district is next to McLachlan and both are Republicans. McLachlan opened by supporting the bill and then proceeded to talk about how important it was to create the service. He did a very good job ticking off the benefits and describing the service, so while he supported the study he also strongly supported the service itself.
After McLachlan, several others testified – mostly about other rail service in Fairfield County – and Commissioner James Redeker testified about rail challenges in general.
Then Committee Chair Rep. Guerrera called Rep. Roberta Willis, who asked Doug Hume, Republican 1st Selectman from North Canaan, and Susie Clayton, Democratic Selectman from North Canaan, to sit with her. Willis’s testimony on the importance of the service -passenger and freight was superb. She also mentioned the progress in Massachusetts. Doug Hume spoke on behalf of the Chapin study bill and after supporting the bill went on to support the creation of the service for both passengers and freight. He also spoke of the importance the service specifically to the industries and people of North Canaan. Susie Clayton gave a very good presentation about the importance of providing a future for the families of the region, the importance for freight and passenger service, and also expanded a bit to talk about how important it was for the region (short version of Clayton’s remarks are available by clicking here).
A number of committee members asked questions. There were good questions from both sides of the isle, as well as questions from Fairfield County representatives and senators who clearly understood the importance of connecting their region with Northwest CT.
When Willis was finished, the chair called Colin Pease of the Housatonic Railroad. He spoke strongly in favor of Willis’s bill and also in favor of a bill to extend Metro-North Service to New Milford. Again, there were constructive questions, no negatives, and a friendly reception.
At the end, about 3:00pm, the chair asked Pease if he could supply the committee with the studies done by the railroad.