State Representative Bill Buckbee recently testified before the Transportation Committee at the Legislative Office Building.

Buckbee, a New Milford Republican, advocated for the expansion of commuter rail service to New Milford while speaking in favor of H.B. 5315, An Act Concerning Rails.

“Rail service will be a big positive for the town of New Milford and surrounding areas,” he said. “This will allow those working in neighboring towns an alternative means to commute to and from their jobs, alleviating some traffic on our congested highways.

“The addition of rail will also boost our local economy and increase tourism to our historic town,” he added.

Several local businesses and their employees have contacted him regarding their commute times, the state representative said. Often these commutes are upwards of two hours each way.

State Senator Toni Boucher (R-26th) , co-chairman of the Transportation Committee, explained specifically how the extension of the Danbury-Norwalk line would benefit those living in the southwestern part of the state.

“Commuters will go from one town to the next, not New York City, to work,” she said. “It is one of the longest north-south branch lines and has great potential economically and otherwise, so thank you for adding your voice to the discussion,” she said.

“This expansion isn’t just an extension of the New York Metro,” Buckbee responded.

“Representing a municipality that is lacking in public transportation, it simply makes sense to expand the commuter rail service to reduce the stresses around the limited local transportation options available to my community,” Buckbee said. “Many people interested in this rail service work just one or two towns over, it will be helpful to provide some options to these workers.”

While Buckbee is aware that funding will be a major barrier in terms of passing this initiative at the state level, he continues to work with key stakeholders and federal leadership to augment his advocacy efforts in Hartford.

“I can personally attest to your sincere commitment around the rail line issue, so I commend you for that,” said State Representative Fred Wilms (R-142nd). “I think your proposal deserves worthy consideration.”

“I know you are a strong advocate for the extension of that line, and I join you in the hope we can do that one day,” said State Representative Gail Lavielle (R-143rd). “I thank you for bringing it up…perhaps some of the discussion we have had about private-public partnerships will ultimately be helpful in that regard.”