Following a nationwide search, the Connecticut Department of Transportation has appointed a veteran New Jersey Transit official to lead the state’s bureau of public transportation.
Richard Andreski, who will fill the post in November, first got involved with public transportation in New Jersey as a transit advocate working to improve access and reduce congestion for New York City commuters.
Andreski has since served in several other positions at New Jersey Transit over a span of almost 17 years, the most recent being director of Trans-Hudson Project Planning.
Andreski said his approach to coordinating transportation projects is holistic — a mindset shaped by working in a state with high-density transit systems.
“I think bringing a new multi-modal view of the world to how we view projects is really important. And that’s important because people choose to take transit because it takes them where they want to go,” Andreski said. “And if where they want to go means they have to ride a bus and then transfer to a train, we need to make that experience as positive and as practical and as easy as possible.”
As Andreski works to put into action Governor Dannel Malloy’s 30-year, $100 billion transportation overhaul, he may be challenged by Connecticut’s car-centric commuting culture, but he said the state’s current major projects on Metro-North, the Hartford Line, and CTfastrak will begin to create a more unified commuting network.
“Each of these projects at the start don't stand on their own. They're part of a larger integrated network.” he said.
Andreski said that recent trends show a boost in public transit ridership fueled by mobile technology and a younger, urban-centric generation of commuters.
“Folks are frankly tired of sitting in traffic. They don’t really to drive an hour to get to their job, and if they have a choice, a lot of people are choosing to live near transit,” Andreski said.
On Storm Resiliency
Andreski said the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 prompted his department at New Jersey Transit to look into rebuilding infrastructure to be more resilient.
“What we can’t afford to do is be lulled into complacency,” Andreski said.
Andreski said while the impact of rising sea level and climate change can’t be prevented entirely, there are measures Connecticut can take to mitigate storm damage, such as elevating electrical substations and designing infrastructure that can be restored and repaired more quickly when it’s inundated by floodwaters.
Andreski said the replacement of the Walk Bridge, a 118-year-old movable railroad bridge in Norwalk, will also boost shoreline transit resiliency.
“The new bridge is going to have multiple spans that allow if there’s a malfunction in one of the moveable spans, service will be able to continue on another track,” Andreski said.
Connecticut DOT Commissioner James Redeker is also a veteran of New Jersey Transit, and while Andreski worked in the same department as Redeker when he began working there in 1999, he said it will be in Connecticut where they first work together directly.