Construction began Wednesday on a new Metro-North Railroad train station in West Haven, a project that Connecticut officials say will give more commuting options to residents and business travelers, The Associated Press reports.
The $103 million station, scheduled to open in late 2012, is in the midst of an 11-mile stretch between New Haven and Milford. It's the longest nonstop portion on Metro-North's New Haven Line, which links shoreline Connecticut and New York City.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell and other state and regional officials kicked off the construction with a ceremonial groundbreaking as a backhoe sat ready to start digging at the site, a few blocks from West Haven's city center.
With 660 parking spaces, the 3,000-square-foot station will have a waiting room, restrooms, ticket vending machines, a newsstand and a pedestrian bridge over the tracks. The site currently is barren.
"It will be a first-class station in every way, and it will serve the community and our commuters for years to come," Rell said.
Currently, Metro-North trains travel nonstop through West Haven and neighboring Orange, so riders heading for that area must either get off at Milford and head east or go to New Haven and double back.
Sherry Herrington of West Haven makes that trip every weekday to and from Manhattan for her job as a Metro-North executive, boarding and disembarking at Union Station in New Haven. The new station will be so close that she can ride her bicycle there in good weather.
"Every night, I look out the window on the train as we go through West Haven and I say, `I could be getting off here. I could nearly be home,'" said Herrington, one of dozens of West Haven residents who attended the groundbreaking. "I've been excited about this for a long time."
Michael Mercuriano, a West Haven real estate agent, said the event was a sweet moment for himself and other residents who organized a grass-roots drive 10 years ago to push for the station.
"It's going to make a great difference," Mercuriano said of the new stop as the rumble of a passing Metro-North train faded into the distance. "It is going to hook us up to the linear city of New York and Boston, and that means a lot in progress."