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Fairfield Metro Center Nearly Finalized

Pending a few agreements with the state and UI, the town's third train station is ready to open Dec. 5 -- First Selectman Michael Tetreau updated the RTM on a few key areas.

 

The is coming to a close -- most of it, anyway.

First Selectman Michael Tetreau, with the help of Director of Community and Economic Development , updated members of the 2011-2013 on the status of the project, which is more than 10 years in the making.

Paperwork

The station is still set for a , and the First Selectman’s Office announced Monday that a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held on Friday, Dec. 2. But Tetreau cautioned that both these dates are contingent upon completing agreements with the state and United Illuminating.

The agreement for up to $3 million in reimbursement from the state for parking lot and road construction is being finalized, Tetreau said. He told the RTM he spent part of Monday in Newington discussing the agreement with state Department of Transportation (DOT) officials, “dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.”

If that draft does not change, he believes the agreement will be finalized later this week and ready for the Board of Selectmen’s review.

“We are to be reimbursed for actual costs incurred in building the parking lot and roadway, not to exceed $3 million,” Barnhart said of the agreement.

The easement and project agreement in the UI is in the same stage, Tetreau said. That agreement must be finalized before UI energizes the lines for the train tracks, he added. Should those agreements come back to him within the next two to three days, the station will be on schedule to open Dec. 5.

Tetreau also said that the town would not transfer the parking lot to the state until the $3 million grant is finalized.

Cost Overruns

Another update the First Selectman provided was the decision to dip into the contingency funds to bulk up some of the project’s budgets in which cost overruns were anticipated.

The $1 million in contingency was reduced to $600,000; the $400,000 difference is set aside in case the excess soil disposal, wrap-up of construction, and inspection and engineering go over budget, Tetreau said.

None of that $400,000 has been spent yet, Barnhart added. However, half of the excess soil disposal budget has been spent, and yet 10,000 cubic yards still remain on the lot.

Barnhart said that much of the soil had been subject to on-site consolidation but that option has been exhausted; the town must now look to off-site disposal of the rest of the soil, which is the more expensive course of action.

The anticipated overruns in the engineering and inspection portion of the project are just small costs, Barnhart said. Extra costs may accrue for construction due to the state’s demand that the project finish within its timeframe, which accelerated construction, Barnhart said.

Following completion of the project’s construction and the station’s opening, Tetreau said there would still be several closeout reports to publish. Those include a Post Remediation Report (slated for January 2012), a DOT Project Close-Out (February 2012), and an Inlands Wetlands Permit Application Close-Out report (January 2012).

If you currently hold a six-month permit for the downtown station and you haven’t renewed it yet, Chair Mary Kay Frost said you have just a few days to do so before getting a ticket.

Frost said a letter was sent out earlier this year urging six-month permit holders to either renew their permits for June or elect to obtain a permit for the Metro Center before the opening of the Metro Center or Dec. 31, whichever date came first.

With the opening of the station slated for Monday, the day ticketing begins for expired permits is imminent.

Of the 375 people who hold six-month permits, Frost said 50 still are not accounted for, and the letter had an Oct. 24 deadline to renew or move to the Metro Center.

“They neither told the DOT or FUSCO that they wanted to move to the Metro Center or told us that they wanted to stay downtown,” Frost said.

And if you did renew your permit, don’t forget to put it in the window prior to Dec. 5, she added.

Rob S November 29, 2011 at 06:36 PM
So basically, 2 platforms, a parking lot, and a bridge. Way to go.
TJC November 29, 2011 at 07:37 PM
I'm speechless... How much money went into this project, exactly? And there's not even a toilet? Really? There is a really good joke/punchline here someplace. Any takers?
Chuck E. Arla November 29, 2011 at 07:46 PM
It's Steinke's revenge . . .guaranteed to create more "wet" lands.
Caitlin Mazzola (Editor) November 29, 2011 at 10:15 PM
Just heard back from the DOT; here's what Judd Everhart, the DOT's director of communications, had to say: "There will be no public restrooms at Fairfield Metro. There are no plans -- for the time being, anyway -- for a coffee shop in the station itself. That could change at some point and if there was a decision to entertain the idea, an RFP bidding process -- Request for Proposals -- would begin." Other than restrooms and a coffee shop, what other additions would you "propose" for the station?
Chuck E. Arla November 29, 2011 at 10:30 PM
Unbelieveable. State says NO restrooms in their station. And, no plans for any coffee, etc. Town talks about having these in some yet to be built Camelot of a building. Notice also the Town guy said that theywere "suggesting" to the state that the state should spring for "portable waiting area/restroom facility." Further notice that the state guy apparently paid no attention to that....ergo, it ain't happening. What other ammenities would I like there? How about stocks and a pillory for all the current and former Town officials responsible for this?
Fairfield Resident November 29, 2011 at 10:43 PM
Pee in the Bushes.
Fairfield Resident November 29, 2011 at 10:49 PM
That's the Town of Fairfield for you. Spend millions of taxpayers dollars without thinking a project through. The money spent on the "Fairfield Metro" station would have been better spent on upgrading the EXISTING train station in downtown Fairfield. They could have made that station ADA compliant and added a second level / deck of parking over the entire parking lot on the New York Bound side of the station for less money than the White Elephant they built on the East Side of town. Bunch of Idiots.
Chuck E. Arla November 29, 2011 at 11:24 PM
Just picked up MetroNorth flyer on homebound train. Touts the new station. Here's one more "You can't make up this stuff" item: station will have just one ticket machine on the NY bound platform. Has anybody at CT DOT ever been on a NY bound platform on the first of the month or Sat. morning/holiday/vacation wk?(rhetorical question) Will not work!
TJC November 29, 2011 at 11:28 PM
I'm afraid to ask what else isn't included. Is there a roof? Heat? Will we need to shovel coal into the locomotive on the way to Manhattan too? At least our Metronorth cars have extremely luxurious bathrooms... Even the TEMPORARY building in Southport had a functioning bathroom! This station is an utter embarrassment. Please just name it after Flatto to make it a complete mockery of itself.
Rob S November 30, 2011 at 01:08 AM
The ticket machines don't even have the new station included to purchase tickets. I'll get a Fairfield monthly for now, but come on, this is basic stuff. The flyer said the station could handle 12 car trains. When is the last time anyone has seen more than a 10 car train? To recap, no bathroom, no coffee shop, no news stand, no indoor waiting area, 2 ticket machines. Do they realize a coffee shop & newstand are revenue generating? Should we be surprised?
TJC November 30, 2011 at 01:30 PM
C'mon, Patch. This is your chance to do an exposé on "Flatto's Folly." I would think that there are some legal/accessibility issues around NOT providing a restroom in a municipal building.
Numbers Watcher November 30, 2011 at 02:18 PM
So after spending about $40 million, Fairfield still has no train station where a handicapped person can use the bathroom? Another classic blunder!
Caitlin Mazzola (Editor) November 30, 2011 at 06:05 PM
It's definitely a good question. Once that concourse building is done there will be restrooms, but who knows how long that is going to take. I was directed to contact BlackRock Realty to see what they're plans are; I will again post what I find out. As far as legality/accessibility, I don't believe the Milford train station's (also constructed/managed by the state) platform has a public restroom, but there's a little bagel/newspaper shop behind the NYC-bound platform with a restroom. Not sure if that is part of the "amenities" the DOT website says the Milford train station boasts or if a small business owner just took the opportunity to open a bagel shop/newspaper stand behind the train station (the shop is open at odd hours too; the last time I took the train from Milford on a Sunday morning it was closed, and that was just a few weeks ago). Does anyone else know of CT stations that don't host public restrooms?
Clyde Newman November 30, 2011 at 07:50 PM
I use Amtrak's platform at Windsor Locks. It's kind of the same thing. http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=am/am2Station/Station_Page&code=WNL
Rob S November 30, 2011 at 08:27 PM
Caitlin, Here is one for you. How much of the costs layed out so far are directly related to the facility as has been constructed to date? How much was spent so that the future phases can be built at a lower cost to the developer?
Caitlin Mazzola (Editor) November 30, 2011 at 09:12 PM
Excellent question Rob -- I've forwarded it to Mr. Barnhart; I will post the information as I get it.
TJC November 30, 2011 at 09:15 PM
Amtrak Shamtrack. They are more corrupt than an 1890's Robber baron.
Fairfield Resident December 01, 2011 at 04:56 AM
Here's another one for you Caitlin: Why are Metro-North Conductors allowed to park in "PERMIT REQUIRED" parking spaces at the current Fairfield train station downtown without a Parking Permit displayed on their windshields? There is one M-N conductor that gets off the 4:45PM from NY that waddles to his car parked in the spaces just across from the bike racks by the Dry Cleaners and gets into his car that just has a hand-written sign that says "Metro-North Conductor". WTF?! I have been on the Waiting List for 5 YEARS and this turd can just slap a sign in his car and take a permit required parking space? Investigate that!
steve sheppard December 01, 2011 at 03:47 PM
I thought the no bathroom, no heat, no roof was a joke. I guess the joke is on the handicaped that will use the new station. Does not seem to make sense to switch from current station to the new one. Caitlin, how many permit holders have made a firm commitment to move to the new station. For years I bugged Flatto about putting an overhead cover and fixing the stairs at the current station. I wanted him to push for that to get done before we even started the Metro/Flatto Center. Read the other day in local paper they are finally covering the overhead walkway. That seems like the only positive thing to happen. The cost in the paper was $100,000......alot cheaper than almost $40,000,000 for the new station. "Waste a Buck" should be the name not "Fairfield Metro Center." But this is just Fairfield moving to be more of a city like Norwalk etc.
Kathy December 01, 2011 at 04:02 PM
Are the walking path from the nearby neighborhood opeing as well? Do they lead to the train station? or do they just go to the dirt piles and remainig costruction?
Caitlin Mazzola (Editor) December 01, 2011 at 05:10 PM
@Fairfield Resident -- thanks for pointing that out, regarding the Metro North conductors. I'll see what I can find out -- there's a ribbon-cutting ceremony tomorrow at 1:30 pm with officials from the various agencies involved; I've scheduled some time to speak with them following the ceremony. @Kathy -- I'll let you know following the ceremony tomorrow; look for updates in the afternoon. @Steve -- I will forward your question the Parking Authority; they should know, otherwise I will get their FUSCO contact information.
Caitlin Mazzola (Editor) December 01, 2011 at 05:21 PM
Steve, according to the town's FAQ on the Metro Center (can be found on this webpage: http://www.fairfieldct.org/rail.htm), as of Nov. 4, 500 commuters made a commitment to move to the Metro Center and there are still about 500 spots available. I've asked Ms. Frost for an update, or to provide a DOT/FUSCO contact for that update.
TJC December 01, 2011 at 06:21 PM
Lets hope the Governor doesn't need to go to the bathroom during the ceremony. That would be... awkward.
Chuck E. Arla December 01, 2011 at 06:26 PM
He'll just have to hold it . . . until Flatto's buddy Wittek builds another building. LOL Or else watch out for the statte police car racing out of the station with lights and sirens blasting.
06890 December 01, 2011 at 07:12 PM
Some appreciation should be shown for Caitlin's dillengence in finding answers for all these questions being lobbed at her. It's great the community has become so interested in this debacle; I hope moving forward we remain just as involved during the decision making processes of future projects BEFORE they are put into action and constructed. The dissappointment generated by the lack of transparency at town hall is widespread, elected officials are PAID to answer our questions, we deserve answers and we deserve to know what is next. Fingers crossed that more of an open forum between town hall and the community is established.
Fairfield Resident December 02, 2011 at 03:15 PM
Thank you for the follow-up Caitlin. If you want, I can take a picture of the car with the sign in it on Monday and e-mail it to you.
Fairfield Resident December 02, 2011 at 03:16 PM
I concur! Caitlin is awesome (and cute too)....
Caitlin Mazzola (Editor) December 02, 2011 at 05:57 PM
@Peter Starett -- Thank you for your kind comment and input. @Fairfield Resident -- Thank you as well, and yes, please email me the photo of the conductor's parking "pass." That will definitely be helpful! I'll find out what I can.
Fairfield Resident December 02, 2011 at 06:00 PM
Will Do!
Kimberly Hill December 11, 2012 at 08:01 PM
As far as overpasses, Fairfield Metro isn’t the only station with just one overpass As far as coffee, I grab my coffee on the way to the station so I am set. As far as lack of restrooms; I go to the rest room at home and will go at work when I get there. If god forbid I can't wait, there are restrooms on the train. I am so happy not to have to deal anymore with the cluster otherwise known as the downtown Fairfield station. The hassle to park if you don’t have a permit and the mean and nasty pretend cops who are in the parking lot “directing” cars; what a nightmare. Sure the station isn't perfect and maybe things could have been done better. However, I am just happy to have a new station and a permit to park in it. Having parked here for a year now I still have no complaints. It’s nice cause I always get on in the am to practically an empty train, the platforms are long so I never have to worry what car I’m in for exciting cause all doors open at Metro and it’s a nice station.

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