For the last 17 months, staff at SECoast and our statewide partner, the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, have worked incredibly hard to oppose federal plans for high-speed rail through coastal Connecticut and southern Rhode Island.

We have spent well over 3500 man-hours on the project; developed a legal strategy with environmental and preservation lawyers in Washington D.C., New Haven, San Francisco, and New York; submitted a 13,000 word public comment; led off rallies and meetings in Greenwich, Guilford, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, New London, Mystic, Stonington, Pawcatuck, and Charlestown; organized a research team that twice uncovered wrongdoing on the part of the Federal Railroad Administration. We brought critical media attention, which generated well over 100 media articles in Politico, AP, Bloomberg, Providence Journal, Hartford Courant, New London Day, Westerly Sun, New Haven Register, Greenwich Time, Stamford Hour, and Connecticut Mirror... the Federal Railroad Administration has received more than 8000 public comments since December 2016. Weve put together a professional, effective, campaign on a shoestring.

Im not going to beat around the bush. Back in January 2016, when other larger organizations were reluctant to sign on, the Connecticut Trust answered the call. Since then, the Connecticut Trust has been the only statewide organization in southern New England to devote significant time or resources to NEC Future. 

Now were asking for your help. With budgets as they are in Hartford, your donations are critical to our financial health, and our ability to advocate for you. Please please consider donating to the Connecticut Trust. Its easy. You can donate by check or credit card, just click here to find out how... 

http://secoast.org/donate/

With your help, were only just getting started...

For the last 17 months, staff at SECoast and our statewide partner, the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, have worked incredibly hard to oppose federal plans for high-speed rail through coastal Connecticut and southern Rhode Island.

We have spent well over 3500 man-hours on the project; developed a legal strategy with environmental and preservation lawyers in Washington D.C., New Haven, San Francisco, and New York; submitted a 13,000 word public comment; led off rallies and meetings in Greenwich, Guilford, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, New London, Mystic, Stonington, Pawcatuck, and Charlestown; organized a research team that twice uncovered wrongdoing on the part of the Federal Railroad Administration. We brought critical media attention, which generated well over 100 media articles in Politico, AP, Bloomberg, Providence Journal, Hartford Courant, New London Day, Westerly Sun, New Haven Register, Greenwich Time, Stamford Hour, and Connecticut Mirror... the Federal Railroad Administration has received more than 8000 public comments since December 2016. We've put together a professional, effective, campaign on a shoestring.

I'm not going to beat around the bush. Back in January 2016, when other larger organizations were reluctant to sign on, the Connecticut Trust answered the call. Since then, the Connecticut Trust has been the only statewide organization in southern New England to devote significant time or resources to NEC Future.

Now we're asking for your help. With budgets as they are in Hartford, your donations are critical to our financial health, and our ability to advocate for you. Please please consider donating to the Connecticut Trust. It's easy. You can donate by check or credit card, just click here to find out how...

secoast.org/donate/

With your help, we're only just getting started...
... See MoreSee Less

2 days ago

Comment on Facebook

Just donated in honor of the extraordinary work that Gregory Stroud has undertaken on behalf of Connecticut coastal communities.

Thank you for an outstanding effort! There is no substitute for commitment, intelligence and hard work.

Sent a check - thank you all for the great job you're doing - tremendous effort

I have mixed feelings about this. Shouldn't we betraying to revive our rail system to get cars off the roads and cut back on pollution?

Thank you for all you do!

I like the idea of high speed rail through coastal ct

+ View previous comments

A quick reminder... tomorrow is your chance to help shape what you want out of the State Historic Preservation Office.  The meeting is scheduled for The Pavilion at Saybrook Point Park, 155 College Street, Old Saybrook, CT June 27, 7:00 to 9:00 PM.

A quick reminder... tomorrow is your chance to help shape what you want out of the State Historic Preservation Office. The meeting is scheduled for The Pavilion at Saybrook Point Park, 155 College Street, Old Saybrook, CT June 27, 7:00 to 9:00 PM. ... See MoreSee Less

2 days ago

Rep. Elizabeth Esty on NEC Future 6-22-2017

Rep. Elizabeth Esty on NEC Future 6-22-2017
"I want to be very clear on record, it's really important to leave the door open ... to consider an inland route."

Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) asks Federal Railroad Administration and Amtrak officials about NEC Future in a hearing today on “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America: Challenges and Opportunities for Intercity Passenger Rail Service” before the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.
... See MoreSee Less

6 days ago

Comment on Facebook

Thank you Rep Esty.

Possibly a better commuter service on the shore ?

live streaming infrastructure committee hearings on rail serviceWe will be LIVE at our hearing on intercity passenger rail service @ 10am w/ Representative Jeff Denham in the chair. #building21 ... See MoreSee Less

6 days ago

When people tell you, as they will, not to worry, that everything will be fixed later in Tier 2, here is our response, excerpted from our public comment. Its a bit of a mouthful, but take a look...

====

The National Environmental Policy Act, and the courts, have established a balance of baseline standards for environmental review, not to impede, but to foster worthwhile federal actions. This balance of public interests is apparent in Silva v. Lynn, a four-decade-old decision by the First Circuit Court, requiring a detailed environmental impact statement to help “insure the integrity of the process of decision by precluding stubborn problems or serious criticism from being swept under the rug.”
 
Three decades later, in Utahans for Better Transportation v. United States Department of Transportation, the Tenth Circuit Court ruled that agencies must include a reasonable range of alternatives that are “non-speculative and bounded by some notion of feasibility.” 

One wonders, if not in this instance, then at what point can we reasonably agree that an alternative or route or matter of construction has exceeded notions of speculation and feasibility? Surely there is no more fitting example of a potentially stubborn problem than the extraordinary and entirely unstudied challenges posed by seventy-nine miles of new rail corridor through Connecticut; a corridor that when unbundled at Tier 2,  will pose so many challenging, impactful, and constituent problems that the endeavor has been dismissed outright by Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, as “half-baked and harebrained.” 
 
How else to describe the selection and inclusion of these seventy-nine miles of new rail corridor in a Preferred Alternative based on nothing more substantial than “readily available data,” than as “stubborn problems … swept under the rug”? Without significant revision, the Federal Railroad Administration’s current plans for Connecticut, as delineated in the F-EIS documentation, do not merely invite intervention through the courts, they nearly require it.

====

When people tell you, as they will, not to worry, that everything will be fixed later in Tier 2, here is our response, excerpted from our public comment. It's a bit of a mouthful, but take a look...

====

The National Environmental Policy Act, and the courts, have established a balance of baseline standards for environmental review, not to impede, but to foster worthwhile federal actions. This balance of public interests is apparent in Silva v. Lynn, a four-decade-old decision by the First Circuit Court, requiring a detailed environmental impact statement to help “insure the integrity of the process of decision by precluding stubborn problems or serious criticism from being swept under the rug.”

Three decades later, in Utahans for Better Transportation v. United States Department of Transportation, the Tenth Circuit Court ruled that agencies must include a reasonable range of alternatives that are “non-speculative and bounded by some notion of feasibility.”

One wonders, if not in this instance, then at what point can we reasonably agree that an alternative or route or matter of construction has exceeded notions of speculation and feasibility? Surely there is no more fitting example of a potentially stubborn problem than the extraordinary and entirely unstudied challenges posed by seventy-nine miles of new rail corridor through Connecticut; a corridor that when unbundled at Tier 2, will pose so many challenging, impactful, and constituent problems that the endeavor has been dismissed outright by Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, as “half-baked and harebrained.”

How else to describe the selection and inclusion of these seventy-nine miles of new rail corridor in a Preferred Alternative based on nothing more substantial than “readily available data,” than as “stubborn problems … swept under the rug”? Without significant revision, the Federal Railroad Administration’s current plans for Connecticut, as delineated in the F-EIS documentation, do not merely invite intervention through the courts, they nearly require it.

====
... See MoreSee Less

1 week ago

Comment on Facebook

This is not good. I saw a news piece about Amtrak and it's woes, but there is absolutely no reason to do the CT RI bypass. Nothing planned will allow higher speeds through tunnels that need to be created, ruining neighborhoods and wetlands.

One of the oddities uncovered in the NEC Future plan, was the unexplained lack of any documented highway projects as part of the required baseline comparison for either Rhode Island or Connecticut through 2040.

It might seem unfair, but federal agencies are given significant discretion by the courts to choose their own experts, procedure, and evidence. But they have to abide by their own procedures, and they have to be consistent. In this case, clearly, the Federal Railroad Administration fell short...

Heres an excerpt from our public comment on the plan...

In twenty pages of projects documented as part of the No Action Alternative, there are ten individual highway projects in Maryland, eight projects in Delaware, eighty-four projects in Pennsylvania, twenty-one projects in New Jersey, eight projects in New York, and sixteen projects in Massachusetts. These projects include adding “one lane in each direction to complete a minimum of three lanes in each direction for the length of the NJ Turnpike,” a project directly analogous to plans in Connecticut adding one lane in each direction for the length of the I-95. It is remarkable, and troubling, then that as a baseline point of comparison, the No Action Alternative projects list fails to include a single highway project in either Connecticut or Rhode Island prior to 2040.

If this sounds to you like a minor point -- this is a railroad plan after all, not a highway plan -- it isnt. In fact, the No Action Alternative is the foundation for the entire plan. A faulty or inadequate baseline calls into question not just a project here or a project there, but suggests a cascading series of problems, with significant legal consequences.

When the Record of Decision is announced, of course first well look at the maps... but second, the baseline. How they fix or finesse this problem will be one of the more interesting revisions of the last months.

One of the oddities uncovered in the NEC Future plan, was the unexplained lack of any documented highway projects as part of the required baseline comparison for either Rhode Island or Connecticut through 2040.

It might seem unfair, but federal agencies are given significant discretion by the courts to choose their own experts, procedure, and evidence. But they have to abide by their own procedures, and they have to be consistent. In this case, clearly, the Federal Railroad Administration fell short...

Here's an excerpt from our public comment on the plan...

"In twenty pages of projects documented as part of the No Action Alternative, there are ten individual highway projects in Maryland, eight projects in Delaware, eighty-four projects in Pennsylvania, twenty-one projects in New Jersey, eight projects in New York, and sixteen projects in Massachusetts. These projects include adding “one lane in each direction to complete a minimum of three lanes in each direction for the length of the NJ Turnpike,” a project directly analogous to plans in Connecticut adding one lane in each direction for the length of the I-95. It is remarkable, and troubling, then that as a baseline point of comparison, the No Action Alternative projects list fails to include a single highway project in either Connecticut or Rhode Island prior to 2040."

If this sounds to you like a minor point -- this is a railroad plan after all, not a highway plan -- it isn't. In fact, the No Action Alternative is the foundation for the entire plan. A faulty or inadequate baseline calls into question not just a project here or a project there, but suggests a cascading series of problems, with significant legal consequences.

When the Record of Decision is announced, of course first we'll look at the maps... but second, the baseline. How they fix or finesse this problem will be one of the more interesting revisions of the last months.
... See MoreSee Less

2 weeks ago

You cannot simply draw a line on a map of coastal Connecticut, a line representing billions of dollars of construction, development, and eminent domain, representing seventy-nine miles of proposed new rail corridor through communities uniquely dense with environmental and historic resources, without far-reaching consequences not easily undone 

[excerpted from Connecticut Trusts public comment on NEC Future]

"You cannot simply draw a line on a map of coastal Connecticut, a line representing billions of dollars of construction, development, and eminent domain, representing seventy-nine miles of proposed new rail corridor through communities uniquely dense with environmental and historic resources, without far-reaching consequences not easily undone"

[excerpted from Connecticut Trust's public comment on NEC Future]
... See MoreSee Less

2 weeks ago

Comment on Facebook

Have you commented on the plan yet? It's easy... just write to info@necfuture.com

Where can I see a higher resolution version of this? All of the Old Lyme schools seem to be within the impact zone.

Michelle, we have requested higher-resolution maps. They exist. And the FRA refuses to release them. We made a Freedom of Information Request for higher-quality maps in April of last year. I'd encourage you to write to info@necfuture.com and ask for high-quality "data viewer" maps.

I'd encourage residents in the area to voice their ideas and concerns to the State Historic Preservation Office directly!

"The Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) is working on a Comprehensive Statewide Historic Preservation Plan to be completed by the end of the year. The Plan will be an intensive level planning document addressing the treatment of the historic and cultural resources across the state. It will serve as a guide for planning and decision making by the SHPO, Towns, agencies, non-profit organizations, and others who may affect these resources."

For southeast Connecticut, there will be a meeting at The Pavilion at Saybrook Point Park, 154 College Street at Saybrook Point, Old Saybrook, CT on June 27 from 7 to 9 PM.
... See MoreSee Less

2 weeks ago

it has been a very busy week, with an interview by the ABC affiliate scheduled for late this morning in Guilford -- the third television news interview there this week -- to discuss plans by the federal government to double the rail corridor between Branford and Guilford stations.

Many more questions are cropping up from residents in the Greenwich area, with a small flurry of recent radio interviews by local residents, including Trust member Jo Conboy, Greg Stroud, and Congressman Jim Himes, who sought in particular to reassure concerned residents in his district.

Meanwhile, local officials and residents in Charlestown are once again leading the way, actively looking beyond the short term to make sure their concerns, and better solutions, are addressed in long-term planning documents currently under development at the state-level in Rhode Island.

And lastly... we are hearing that staff-level recommendation are complete for routes through Connecticut, but no decision has yet been formalized at the agency leadership level... so if you havent already, be sure to write the Federal Railroad Administration with your concerns at info@necfuture.com

it has been a very busy week, with an interview by the ABC affiliate scheduled for late this morning in Guilford -- the third television news interview there this week -- to discuss plans by the federal government to double the rail corridor between Branford and Guilford stations.

Many more questions are cropping up from residents in the Greenwich area, with a small flurry of recent radio interviews by local residents, including Trust member Jo Conboy, Greg Stroud, and Congressman Jim Himes, who sought in particular to reassure concerned residents in his district.

Meanwhile, local officials and residents in Charlestown are once again leading the way, actively looking beyond the short term to make sure their concerns, and better solutions, are addressed in long-term planning documents currently under development at the state-level in Rhode Island.

And lastly... we are hearing that staff-level recommendation are complete for routes through Connecticut, but no decision has yet been formalized at the agency leadership level... so if you haven't already, be sure to write the Federal Railroad Administration with your concerns at info@necfuture.com
... See MoreSee Less

2 weeks ago

We will be speaking and taking questions on the high-speed rail issue at 7 pm tonight in Guilford at the Nathanael Greene Community Center. I think it will be a lively night, with all the latest news...

We will be speaking and taking questions on the high-speed rail issue at 7 pm tonight in Guilford at the Nathanael Greene Community Center. I think it will be a lively night, with all the latest news... ... See MoreSee Less

3 weeks ago

Comment on Facebook

Thanks! Hope all is well. We should get together soon....

Next wednesday evening, June 7th, we will be leading a discussion and answering questions on NEC Future plans to double the existing rail footprint between Branford and Guilford stations through Stony Creek. 

The meeting will be held at the Nathanael Greene Community Center, 32 Church Street, in Guilford, at 7:00 p.m.  Please come out, and bring your friends and neighbors.  Well be happy to answer questions on other portions of the plan as well...

Next wednesday evening, June 7th, we will be leading a discussion and answering questions on NEC Future plans to double the existing rail footprint between Branford and Guilford stations through Stony Creek.

The meeting will be held at the Nathanael Greene Community Center, 32 Church Street, in Guilford, at 7:00 p.m. Please come out, and bring your friends and neighbors. We'll be happy to answer questions on other portions of the plan as well...
... See MoreSee Less

4 weeks ago

Branford First Selectman writes FRA to express strong trepidation toward NEC Future plans for an expansion of the Branford to Guilford rail corridor.

http://secoast.org/2017/05/26/branford-first-selectman-expresses-strong-trepidation-to-branford-to-guilford-expansion/

Branford First Selectman writes FRA to express "strong trepidation" toward NEC Future plans for an expansion of the Branford to Guilford rail corridor.

secoast.org/2017/05/26/branford-first-selectman-expresses-strong-trepidation-to-branford-to-guilf...
... See MoreSee Less

1 month ago

Team SECoast in the Tour de Lyme

Team SECoast in the Tour de Lyme ... See MoreSee Less

1 month ago

Tonight, Monday the 15th of May, there will be a 7 p.m. zoning hearing in Essex to discuss proposed development along the Connecticut River waterfront adjoining the Connecticut River Museum. 

Although we have not taken a formal position on this issue, we strongly encourage the public to attend....

Tonight, Monday the 15th of May, there will be a 7 p.m. zoning hearing in Essex to discuss proposed development along the Connecticut River waterfront adjoining the Connecticut River Museum.

Although we have not taken a formal position on this issue, we strongly encourage the public to attend....
... See MoreSee Less

1 month ago

Since Senator Blumenthal wrote the Federal Railroad Administration on April 12, in opposition to NEC Future plans to expand the rail footprint between Guilford and Branford from two to four tracks, there has been a small flurry letter from the region expressing concerns about the plan.  The latest letter is from Connecticut State Senator Ted Kennedy Jr. and State Rep. Sean Scanlon.  You can read it here: secoast.org/2017/04/20/state-sen-ted-kennedy-jr-and-state-rep-sean-scanlon-request-fra-meeting-on-branford-to-guilford-doubletracking/

Since Senator Blumenthal wrote the Federal Railroad Administration on April 12, in opposition to NEC Future plans to expand the rail footprint between Guilford and Branford from two to four tracks, there has been a small flurry letter from the region expressing concerns about the plan. The latest letter is from Connecticut State Senator Ted Kennedy Jr. and State Rep. Sean Scanlon. You can read it here: secoast.org/2017/04/20/state-sen-ted-kennedy-jr-and-state-rep-sean-scanlon-request-fra-meeting-on-branford-to-guilford-doubletracking/ ... See MoreSee Less

2 months ago

Comment on Facebook

Mary McAndrew

Here is a copy of our latest press release on high-speed rail issued by the Connecticut Trust

Press Release - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

With Final Decision on NEC Future Near, Connecticut Trust Pushes CT DOT for Clear Statement on Elimination of Rail Bypasses

Hamden, CT -- (April 18) -- With just weeks remaining before the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) completes a five-year NEC Future planning process, finalizing a ‘once-in-a-generation’ blueprint for rail travel and investment along the Northeast Corridor, advocates of historic, cultural and environmental resources in Connecticut are responding warily to recent statements from Connecticut DOT and FRA officials.

“Connecticut DOT now refers to ‘aspirational recommendations’ for the high-speed rail corridor in Connecticut,” noted Daniel Mackay, Executive Director of the Connecticut Trust. “As this process nears completion, it is critical that the public and municipal officials realize that any language in the Record of Decision which references proposed bypasses in New London and Fairfield counties, as well as in Rhode Island, leaves the door open for these projects in the next stages of planning. It is imperative that FRA and Connecticut DOT permanently bar the door against these destructive bypass proposals.”

The Trust released a copy of a February 10 email to Richard Andreski, Bureau Chief for Public Transportation, calling for state and federal agencies to remove all references to the proposed Old Saybrook to Kenyon (RI) from the forthcoming NEC Future Record of Decision. The Trust also asked for a commitment from both FRA and CT DOT that the Old Saybrook to Kenyon bypass not be reconsidered or reintroduced as planning for NEC Future moves forward. The Trust further warned that the proposed New Rochelle (NY) to Greens Farms bypass in Fairfield County requires a separate Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which should only be amended to NEC Future if warranted following more careful consideration.

In an April 12 letter to FRA Acting Administrator Patrick Warren, Senator Richard Blumenthal drew attention to fresh public concerns regarding previously-overlooked plans by FRA to double to four tracks the existing rail footprint between Branford and Guilford, east of New Haven. Senator Richard Blumenthal urged the agency to “engage in thorough discussions and dialogue” with impacted residents, warning that “it is imperative that these concerns be addressed immediately” given the expected release of the NEC Future Record of Decision.

Following a pattern repeated in other communities in Connecticut and Rhode Island, the proposed Branford to Guilford rail expansion came to the attention of residents in the region, only after the release of finalized maps of the FRA’s ‘Preferred Route’ on December 16, 2016. In recent weeks, six preservation and environmental groups have written to the FRA to express concern, including the Branford Historical Society, Branford Land Trust, Stony Creek Association, Guilford Preservation Alliance, Guilford Land Conservation Trust, and Hyland House.

Despite these concerns, Gregory Stroud, Director of Special Projects at the Connecticut Trust, made clear that he is hopeful for a positive outcome after nearly sixteen months of advocacy on the issue. “On the merits, we believe we’ve made a compelling case that FRA delivered a terrifically flawed plan, with too many impacts, and too few benefits for Connecticut.” Stroud pointed to strong bipartisan support from representatives at the local, state, and federal levels, in both Rhode Island and Connecticut, for dropping planned bypasses, and for investments in the existing Northeast Corridor.

####
... See MoreSee Less

2 months ago

Im a little shy to post, but heres the feature in the Connecticut Mirror this morning, and a little more detail on the fate of the bypass, from a reporter who has the led the coverage on this story, nationwide, for well over a year.  Radelat is based in Washington, D.C.

https://ctmirror.org/2017/04/16/an-old-lyme-academic-aims-to-stop-federal-railroad-agency-in-it-tracks/

I'm a little shy to post, but here's the feature in the Connecticut Mirror this morning, and a little more detail on the fate of the bypass, from a reporter who has the led the coverage on this story, nationwide, for well over a year. Radelat is based in Washington, D.C.

ctmirror.org/2017/04/16/an-old-lyme-academic-aims-to-stop-federal-railroad-agency-in-it-tracks/
... See MoreSee Less

2 months ago

Comment on Facebook

Well deserved coverage

Absolutely lovely. It's the people behind the protest that make a compelling story so no reason to be shy.

Making sense of what went wrong for the FRA... here's one idea from a 2012 report on "Expediting the Environmental Review Process" by the RPA. In fact, Rebecca Reyes-Alicea was a participant...

"If local controversies about a project develop and are not
addressed in the planning phases, the public participation steps
during the NEPA process are often the times when they will
surface, delaying a project or forcing it to be redesigned. Thus,
the drafting of the EIS tends to be the time when stakeholders
come together and realize that they do not agree with some
aspect of the project, whether it is the purpose, design, location,
environmental impacts, mitigation measures, cost, or some other
considerations. In this type of case, the delay is due to a failure to
foster agreement during the project planning phases before the
NEPA process began. Building consensus during the pre-NEPA
planning phase requires greater investments of financial and
administrative resources in advance, but tends to save time and
money in the long-term by helping avoid unnecessary delays during
the EIS or environmental assessment process and achieves greater
benefits by delivering the project faster."

In the case of NEC Future, that would require truly reaching out to the most impacted communities early in the process. It's not as though the outcry in coastal Connecticut and southern Rhode Island should have come as any surprise.
... See MoreSee Less

2 months ago

Forwarding-thinking preservationism...

Forwarding-thinking preservationism...Pleased to share that our new #solarpanels went “live” today, and are generating renewable energy for Connecticut’s power grid! Sincere thanks to Ben Baker of Star Power LLC of Branford and Sunlight Solar Energy of New Haven for their work to make our work more sustainable. ... See MoreSee Less

3 months ago

Its getting real in Fairfield County, where plans to widen I-95 could impact hundreds of millions of dollars of development and investment...  and in New London County?

It's getting real in Fairfield County, where plans to widen I-95 could impact hundreds of millions of dollars of development and investment... and in New London County? ... See MoreSee Less

3 months ago

Load more