When commuter rail service returns to the state's "Inland Route" in a few years, passengers traveling between Hartford and Springfield will notice two things. One is that the route along the Connecticut River is remarkably scenic; the other is that there is a spur line that heads toward Bradley International Airport.
Why not use it?
The state has begun planning for an expansion of the airport, which will likely involve the replacement of the old and vacant Murphy Terminal with a new terminal and the construction of a new parking garage and car rental facility. The environmental work is getting under way.
The new terminal, which would nearly double airport capacity, will be built when demand requires it, and so could be many years away (the garage will likely come sooner). But with the airport now under the control of the Connecticut Airport Authority, which is expected to market it aggressively, and with the newly created Bradley Airport Development Zone recruiting businesses around the airport, there is every reason to think demand will materialize.
Bradley is now easily accessible by car, which is one of its strengths. But prosperity leads to traffic congestion. Major investment and expansion at Bradley over the next 20 years could easily strain the Bradley Connector and local roads — unless there are transpiration options.
So in planning the airport expansion, let's also plan the future transportation expansion. Commuter and high-speed rail on the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield line will expand the reach of the airport, if it is possible to get there by train, or train and shuttle. There are other possible rail options, such as the Griffin corridor from Hartford through Bloomfield and Windsor, as was proposed in the 1990s, or putting a track down the center of the highway connector.
Major airports are accessible by transit. Do we want to be a major airport?