Westbrook (Shore Line East station)
New station under construction in December 2013
|Location||Norris Avenue & Essex Road
|Platforms||2 side platforms|
|Connections||Estuary Transit District|
May 29, 1990(SLE)
|Closed||April 1936 (NYNH&H)|
|Rebuilt||January 15, 2001
March 25, 2014
|Electrified||25,000V (AC) overhead catenary|
Westbrook is a regional rail station on the Northeast Corridor, located off Connecticut Route 153 just north of the village center of Westbrook, Connecticut. It is served by the Connecticut Department of Transportation's Shore Line East commuter rail service; Amtrak's Acela Express and Northeast Regional services run through the station without stopping.
The first Westbrook station opened in 1852, was replaced in 1906, and closed in 1936. A new station for Shore Line East opened in 1990; and was rebuilt in 2001. A new station with a larger lot and two handicapped-accessible platforms opened on March 25, 2014. The larger lot now allows the station, which is less than half a mile from I-95 and US-1, to serve as a park-and-ride station.
New Haven Railroad
The New Haven & New London Railroad was chartered in 1848, began construction in 1850, and opened for service in July 1852. A station was located on the north side of the tracks off Essex Road (the modern location) just north of downtown Westbrook. The line was owned by the New York, Providence and Boston Railroad (the "Stonington Road") from 1858 to 1862, and by the Shore Line Railway from 1864 until it was acquired by the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad (the "New Haven") in 1870. The original 1852-built Westbrook combination depot still stands just north of the tracks at the original site, although it has been turned and moved slightly back from the tracks. A NYP&B emblem from the 1858-1862 ownership was formerly displayed on one end of the building.
The 1852 depot was replaced in 1905-06 by a station building similar to Mystic, no longer extant, located on the south side of the tracks. The new station was locally popular, with the Hartford Courant calling it a "beauty" versus the "barnlike" original. However, the stop at Westbrook was discontinued in April 1936. The station building was demolished several years afterwards, possibly by the 1938 New England Hurricane.
The New Haven continued local service along the route east of New Haven ceased until January 1, 1969, after the New Haven merged into Penn Central. The once-daily Clamdigger and Beacon Hill which continued to serve the route until 1981 did not stop at Westbrook due to its relatively small population and proximity to Old Saybrook. A siding north of the station buildings formerly served the gravel yard located there.
Westbrook also had a minor station stop located 2 miles west at Grove Beach next to the Grove Beach Road overpass. The stop was also variously known as Grovebeach and Lewis Grove. The stop opened around 1880 with a small building, which was replaced in 1899 by a larger station somewhat extravagant for a largely seasonal location. Grove Beach station was not used long into the 20th century, and certainly not after Westbrook closed.
Shore Line East
The modern Westbrook station opened at the beginning of Shore Line East service on May 29, 1990. A small low-level platform and parking lot were located at the modern station location on the north side of the tracks. A small crossing was constructed to allow passengers to board trains on the southern track. In 2001, when the Acela Express began service, a safety precaution went into effect that disallowed passengers from crossing the tracks. A new platform and parking lot were constructed across the tracks, allowing all Shore Line East trains to safely serve passengers on the southern track. The southside platform and lot opened on January 15, 2001.
The original 1990 Shore Line East stations were built before the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed and had low-level platforms that were not handicapped accessible. A 2003 agreement between the Connecticut Department of Transportation (which operates Shore Line East) and Amtrak (who owns the tracks) included a requirement that all Shore Line East stations have second platforms added before Shore Line East service could be increased. Having two platforms allows SLE trains to use both tracks, providing greater operational flexibility. Clinton, Madison, and Branford were rebuilt between 2005 and 2008 with a high-level platform and provisions for a second, while Old Saybrook and Guilford were rebuilt in 2001 and 2005 with two platforms each. However, Westbrook was not rebuilt due to delays with a land swap between the Connecticut Department of Transportation and the town of Westbrook, which was necessary to allow the rebuilding.
The swap, in which the state traded a parcel of land on Route 145 for the town's garage site off Norris Avenue (which became part of the expanded parking lot), was begun in 2004 and mostly agreed to in late 2005, but was not finalized until 2006 when the state agreed to pay $1.5 million for the town to build a new garage on the Route 145 site. Town highway operations were moved to the Route 145 site in September 2011, allowing site clearing to begin in November, and ground was broken for the $14.4 million station in January 2012.
After demolition work over the next several months, the new parking lot was graded in June 2012 and a temporary platform was constructed west of the old one. Construction of the 204-foot-long platforms took place in the third quarter of 2012, while the pedestrian bridge was lifted into place in March 2013. The station was delayed by the unexpected discoveries of a buried concrete mass and utilities under the new station site. The new station was formally opened on March 25, 2014. Full bidirectional service to Westbrook began with the schedule change of May 11, 2014.
- Estuary Transit District: Shoreline Shuttle
- "Ribbon Cut for Westbrook Train Station" (Press release). Connecticut Department of Transportation. March 25, 2014. Retrieved March 29, 2014.
- Karr, Ronald Dale (1995). The Rail Lines of Southern New England. Branch Line Press. pp. 94–96. ISBN 0942147022.
- S.I. (1850). "Westbrook. (Petersen Collection)". UConn Libraries. Retrieved October 8, 2012.
- Roy, John H. Jr. (2007). A Field Guide to Southern New England Railroad Depots and Freight Houses. Branch Line Press. p. 107. ISBN 9780942147087.
- Belletzkie, Bob. "CT Passenger Stations, W-WE". Tyler City Station. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
- The station is labeled as Lewis Grove on this 1893 map and as Grovebeach on this 1900 map.
- Belletzkie, Bob. "CT Passenger Stations, G". Tyler City Station. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
- "Westbrook". Shore Line East. Connecticut Department of Transportation and Rideworks. January 15, 2001. Archived from the original on November 30, 2001. Retrieved October 7, 2012.
- "Expanding Rail Service" (PDF). Connecticut Department of Transportation. January 1, 2007. Retrieved October 7, 2012.
- Coffey, Becky (June 25, 2012). "New Westbrook Train Station Is Rolling Along". The New London Day. Retrieved October 8, 2012.
- Sipe, Corey (January 26, 2012). "Westbrook Train Station Breaks Ground After Lengthy Delays". Montville Patch. Archived from the original on January 8, 2014. Retrieved October 8, 2012.
- "Shore Line East Ped. Bridge Installation Saturday". Zip06. February 28, 2013. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
- Coffey, Becky (January 14, 2013). "New Train Station Opening Delayed to December". The Day. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
- "Shore Line East Train Schedules" (PDF). Connecticut Department of Transportation. May 11, 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 14, 2014. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
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