Hartford’s Future: Light Rail

A rendering of the proposed AI Technology Center in Hartford.

A rendering of the proposed AI Technology Center in Hartford.

A big shout out to EmGee–who commented on our India Oven review–whose blog summed up a story I may have otherwise ignored…because I’m lazy (and actually have work to do lately *harumph*). Basically, AI engineers have big plans for that Broadcast Building–former home WFSB 3–that looks like a cross between an IHOP and a high school. They want to turn it into a uber-green technology center, with a bicycle parking lot, showers, lockers, and a water recovery system!

This is one of the most useful, and non-maddening ideas I’ve heard for Hartford’s redevelopment in a long time. I mean, there’s that enormous convention center which may help bring in some business but does virtually nothing to revitalize a city in terms of locals who choose to live, and play there. (If you’ve ever been to San Jose you’ll know that despite it being a very clean, pretty city, the streets are pretty much empty because it’s all about offices and convention centers…not people.) In Hartford, there’s a bunch of luxury condos and apartments, many of which cost more than a mortgage and still have you staring at highways from your window — and you still need a car to get groceries, or to work. 

But here is what I think needs to be on Hartford’s agenda if they really want people to live, work, and play in their city: a light-rail system, like the LUAS in Dublin. I could, theorhetically, ride my bike to work, but I don’t because I’d have to negotiate some busy roads, and not-so-hot neighborhoods, as well as inclement weather. Then there’s errands; I pass by my grocery store on the way home and often stop in for groceries. If I was on a bike, I couldn’t get much. However, a light rail system would help with all of these issues.

It could even branch out into the suburbs, picking people up at commuter lots. Buses do this to some extent, but buses get stuck in traffic, are slow, and often add considerable amounts of time to a commute (believe me, I rode one through the Lincoln Tunnel for a year). People will use it–they do in Fairfield County, and those trains are old, rickety, lumbering behemoths and often smell like pee. And if people could actually use it to get to restaurants, bars, grocery stores, and museums, they might be inclined to actually live in Hartford.