CTfastrak – Bringing Jobs To “The Other Side Of The Tracks”
By Mike McGarry
February 21, 2013
Back when we were kids, living on “the other side of the tracks” meant you were kind of relegated to a low status in society. And, today, if you take most trains in America, the land “along the tracks” often shows the underbelly of our cities and towns. Abandoned buildings, burnt out cars, weeds and trash, keep people on their iPads as they comfortably cruise by traffic jams.
But, the promise is that CTfastrak will change the dynamic of “behind the tracks”. The whole system, from New Britain to Hartford and well beyond to points throughout the central Connecticut region, with buses now, more trains to follow, and the multi use trail (bikes, pedestrians) will be landscaped to please the eye. And, just as important, create opportunity for development and jobs (Transit Oriented Development).
In land locked cities like Hartford, most acreage is either developed or designated park land. When one takes a trip along the CTfastrak route. An amazing strip of once forgotten land offers itself for all kinds of development. For example, Parkville has seen many attempts to use old factory buildings near the tracks some successfully, some not. By bringing a major commuter station within a short walking distance, this neighborhood will flush out to its full potential. 1429 Park Street will become a very desirable address.
New Britain and Newington will also benefit. The bus stations in New Britian offer great opportunity for all kinds of retail, office and residential use. Students especially will be attracted to the ease that affordable, quick transportation will give them to shuttle between school, jobs and dwelling utits.
Newington is enticing private developers to consider the four acre site at the corner of Fenn Road and Cedar Street, right off Cedar Street CTfastrak station. Mixed development will be the choice in this commercial area. All that is needed is the vision to realize the potential.
Other potential stars in both eyes and the future are areas in Hartford that could transform the city. We remember “Mad Murphy Bazaar Bazaar”, the best pub ever. It’s now a parking lot across from Union Station. What a waste of space. With Union Station becoming a real hub again, look out, we may see Mad Murphy’s rise again! And, all of the land facing the slick scene of modern buses and, after a while, new high trains, will have a special cache, how about a restaurant with a patio called “Behind the tracks!”
The piece we find most attractive to development is the old Hawthorne Street factory size and all the acres of parking around Asylum Hill. Again, what a waste of land and potential. As the use of mass transit (both bus and train) increases maybe the need for all that parking will decrease and instead of asphalt and chain link fences, we may see homes, businesses and tree lined streets, just as it was in the days of Katherine Hepburn, that was her neighborhood.