Options Emerge For New Hartford Train Station As Part Of I-84 Reconstruction

Five options for a new train station in Hartford that would be built as part of the I-84 reconstruction project are in contention to replace the 128-year-old Union Station.

All five are located atop Asylum Hill. Three options are north of Asylum Avenue, just to the west of the existing highway overpass. And two are to the south of Asylum, on the corner of Broad Street and Farmington Avenue.

State and city planners expect a selection will be made by early next year — but construction would still be years away, part of the much larger reconstruction project expected to cost $4.3 billion to $5.3 billion.

A new, combined train station and bus depot is needed because the reconstruction calls for lowering the aging elevated highway just slightly below grade and shifting it to the west. Such a dramatic change requires moving the path of the train tracks to the west of the new highway.

The options were unveiled Monday at the latest in a series of I-84 project workshops seeking comments from the public. Officials cautioned that the drawings were still in the early stages and would be reworked in the coming weeks.

The options to the north of Asylum Avenue include:

  • “Asylum Plaza” that would include a pedestrian plaza between the new train station and Asylum Avenue. A bus depot and parking garage would be located about 100 feet to the north.
  • A second option combines the train station, bus depot and parking garage in the same area but brings the station closer to Asylum Avenue.
  • A third option places the train station farther west but essentially separates the train station from the bus depot and the parking garage.

Two of the three alternatives are made more complex because they would be built over the new highway. But because the tracks will likely be moved some years before the new highway is built, those options would require some sort of temporary station be constructed first in anticipation of the future highway construction.

The overall project will require the acquisition and demolition of existing buildings in the area, including an apartment tower.

Marc A. Reich, chairman and chief executive officer of Ironwood Capital in Avon, said he favored a plan that placed train, bus and parking as close together as possible.

“That leaves so much more property available for other development,” Reich said. “And it has to be as close to downtown as possible.”

Reich said he has been following the I-84 project closely because he is considering opening an office in downtown Hartford.

There was also support for locating the new station south of Asylum, capitalizing on making a statement with the new structure in the view from Bushnell Park. The relocation of the train tracks and the removal of an existing highway ramp will open up new vistas.

Those options include:

  • “Capitol View Transitway” with the train station facing Farmington Avenue.
  • “Broad Street Station” would orient the station toward the corner of Broad Street and Farmington Avenue.

“It would overlook the park and it would make the station very visible,” said Toni Gold, a transportation and community development consultant who lives in the West End.

The plans north of Asylum depend on changing the paths of Garden, Cogswell and Spruce streets. The highway plan, which wouldn’t begin construction until the early 2020s, also is expected to open up vast tracts of land around downtown, particularly near Bushnell Park for other, more attractive development.

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