DANBURY- To better inform the greater Danbury region on status of area state transportation issues, State Representatives Mitch Bolinsky (R-106), Michael Ferguson (R-138), Will Duff (R-2), David Arconti (D- 109), Fred Wilms (R-142) Gail Lavielle (R-143), Stephen Harding (R-107) and Sen. Michael McLa...
Kim Drelich interviews Cathy Osten, Paul Formica, Chris Soto, and Devin Carney on transportation funding (including tolling and gas taxes) and possible service cuts... a very worthwhile read... ... See MoreSee Less
EXACTLY what Fairfield County needs! The sooner, the better. And have the toll be $200 during rush hours.
Just make cannabis legal and reap those tax rewards Ri and Ct!
With recent tax cuts projected to add perhaps $1.5 trillion to the nation's deficit over the next decade, it’s fair to ask whether there will be enough money left over to plausibly fund even a portion of the administration’s fifty-three-page infrastructure outline released February 12. Indeed, a closer look at the plan – nominally an equivalent $1.5 trillion – suggests a mixture of spending cuts, and a radically reformulated federal/state funding match flipping the usual 80/20 mix on its head.
Actual net spending outlined in the infrastructure plan is likely to be at, or very near, zero over the coming decade, with the notable elimination of Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants, transit-oriented New Starts, and other programs. The Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposes an 18% ($3.4 billion) cut in funding for the United States Department of Transportation. It’s doubtful whether these FY19 cuts or Trump’s infrastructure plans will make it through even a GOP-dominated Congress.
But that does not mean that we have the luxury of dismissing these latest plans as mere puffery. And while we think it’s pretty safe to say that big-ticket and transformative plans for the Northeast Corridor, including NEC Future, are likely off the table under a Trump presidency – in fact the administration has downgraded the previously high-priority plans to replace the failing Hudson River Tunnels connecting the Northeast Corridor between New York and New Jersey – the bulk of the infrastructure outline is not devoted to new transportation or infrastructure initiatives, but rather to “streamlining” a variety of regulatory hurdles, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the National Historic Preservation Act, Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act, the Clean Water Act. Two-year deadlines for environmental review and permitting, “performance-based” and “negotiated mitigation” alternatives to NEPA, and a shortened statute of limitations, from two years to 150 days for rail projects, suggest an effort to significantly transform and scale back exactly the safeguards which have helped coastal Connecticut and southern Rhode Island stymie NEC Future planning.
So while limited funding and an upside-down 20/80 federal/state funding mix would provide little incentive or support for significant new public or private transportation projects over the short term, we have real concerns that efforts toward cutting back on key environmental reviews will have bipartisan support in Congress, and greater significance over the longer term. Streamlined reviews have already garnered notable bipartisan support as part of the 2015 FAST Act in the wake of frustrations.
Our expectation is that delayed investments in the Northeast Corridor, combined with streamlined environmental reviews, will leave communities more vulnerable to plans such as NEC Future under future administrations – a long-term concern to be sure, but a very real one, worth engaging in the present. ... See MoreSee Less
Balancing economies of scale, the expertise and leverage of larger government, with the extraordinary value of local, historic communities, will be one of the great challenges of the next few decades for Connecticut.
Will progressive ideals of transit-oriented development, and zoning-overrides for affordable housing, make for a more liveable Connecticut? Or in the process will we lose much of what makes Connecticut worthwhile? How do we regionalize, without homogenizing? How do we balance federal and state-level planning, bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly complete streets, with a sense of place, with centuries-old and local scale and character? ... See MoreSee Less
The issue of regional cooperation, regionalism, regional governance is gradually rising from a faint whisper to an almost audible level of tone in the Land of Steady Habits where the myth of municipal home rule reigns supreme. I have been involved with issues of regional cooperation for close to 30....
"Value Capture Financing" is something to keep an eye on in the coming years, both at the state and the federal level, as an emerging revenue scheme... [here proposed in Trump's latest transportation proposal] ... See MoreSee Less
Yesterday, we asked transit advocate Jim Cameron whether he thought there would be tolling on I-95 in the next 8 years... his (edited) reply:
"I think the first and easiest step will be raising the gasoline tax. Remember, it was the legislature in 1997 that lowered that tax 14 cents a gallon, losing us $3.7 billion in money that could have been spent on transportation. Tolls I think will happen, but in 2-4 years. Widening I-95 between New Haven and RI makes sense and will probably happen... if money can be found."
But with President Trump again floating the idea of a 25 cent hike in federal gasoline taxes to an admittedly reluctant Congress, you have to wonder whether any additional state-level hike for Connecticut would be at all viable politically for state lawmakers.
[Note that Cameron will be discussing these issues at the Old Lyme Town Hall at 7 pm on February 21] ... See MoreSee Less
Few people in Connecticut have a better grasp of transportation politics than Jim Cameron, a long-time commuter rail advocate, columnist, and key ally in our outreach to Fairfield County on the issue of high-speed rail.
So we are excited to have Jim to speak and take questions on the proposed reduction of Shore Line East service, tolling, gas tax, etc. We highly recommend that you come with your questions...
When? February 21 at 7 pm Where? Old Lyme Memorial Town Hall
To kick off his visit, Jim has agreed to answer few questions for us, which we hope you will find provocative and informative. Take a look...
...............Q&A Below ....................
SECoast: How seriously should we take the Governor’s latest proposals for Shore Line East? Is this a real proposal to eliminate weekend service, and cut weekday service by more than half? Or do you see this as more of an effort to drum up support for additional transportation funding during coming budget negotiations?
JC: I take it as a very real (but unwanted) proposal. The last thing CDOT wants to do is cut service. But the alternatives to balance the Special Transportation Fund are few, though this is one. Only the legislature can finding funding alternatives (tolls, gas taxes) to avoid this.
SECoast: How do you see the results of the coming race for governor affecting coming decisions on tolling, gas taxes, commuter service, and the widening of I-95? How much does political party matter in this case? Do any of the candidates stand out in terms of transportation issues?
JC: This is not a partisan issue, nor should it be. But in my mind any candidate who is dismissing tolls as a "tax" are not being honest with voters. Tolls are users fees, paid by those who choose to use them. Who else should pay for our roads if not drivers? It's early days yet in finding candidates who've embraced this issue so voters must keep asking candidates where they stand.
SECoast: Looking to the future, do you believe there will be tolling within 8 years? Two additional lanes on I-95 within 15 years? Significantly expanded high-speed rail within 30?
JC: I think the first and easiest step will be raising the gasoline tax. Remember, it was the legislature in 1997 that lowered that tax 14 cents a gallon, losing us $3.7 billion in money that could have been spent on transportation. Tolls I think will happen, but in 2-4 years. Widening I-95 between New Haven and RI makes sense and will probably happen... if money can be found. As for the FRA's plans for HSR, I can't predict given your and other groups' successful lobbying against the plan.
WASINGTON – President Donald Trump rolled out his long-awaited infrastructure plan on Monday, which was quickly panned by Connecticut’s Democratic lawmakers, who are backing a rival proposal. Both plans face major challenges on the road to becoming reality.
Transportation and infrastructure is one area with significant bipartisan cooperation. The congressional committees tend to be fairly amicable. There is also significant bipartisan cooperation on streamlining, something proposed in this plan, but also embraced strongly by the Malloy administration and CTDOT Commissioner Redeker. But yes, in the current political climate there is little incentive for either party to work with the other.
I hope that everyone truly understands the implications of public-private sector "partnerships" whether at the federal or state levels: It turns our infrastructure into profit centers for investors. This means that ROI will be the driving force, that cost will go up and quality will go down to ensure profits with little oversight or control in the public interest.
Politicians who enact policy and budgets on behalf of corporate profits are corrupt.
Trump transportation proposal would eliminate key federal transportation funding for TIGER grants.
Recent TIGER grants have included New Haven's Route 34 Downtown Crossing Project, Barnum Station Project, New Haven's State Street Station, etc.
A one-way trip from New Haven to the New York border could cost just over $6 during rush hour. The same trip along the scenic Merritt Parkway would run $5 - a slight savings but not much. That could be the cost of driving on state highways if the General Assembly authorizes electronic tolls endorsed...
Pay for use. Makes sense. Let's just hope that our legislators have the wisdom not to turn infrastructure over to the private sector which means the focus will be profits and we will end up paying a lot more.
We’ve paid for use. That’s what the gas tax was for. But politicians never used the $ for that. They won’t use the tolls for this either. Criminal
from Trump's transportation proposal released today
The good news: the state will study higher-speed passenger rail service between Springfield and Boston.
The bad news: Palmer Station is a “Limited market with little local planning to establish station context.”
A Closer Look at New Rochelle to Greens Farms: Impacts, Opportunities, and Analysis – Alon Levy Posted By: admin January 7, 2018 Have you found this analysis valuable? Please consider a tax-deductible donation to support our work
At SECoast, we are off to a quick start in the New Year, with the public release on Monday, January 8, of an independent analysis of the New Rochelle to Greens Farm Bypass by Alon Levy, a well-known transit writer with a Ph.D. in mathematics from Columbia. This study was sponsored by a generous donation from the Greenwich Preservation Trust.
Just to be clear, Levy is no opposition ringer, and this study is no simple-minded opposition document. Instead, we charged Levy with providing a balanced and practical understanding of NEC Future planning:
1. We asserted no editorial control, with the understanding that Levy would not advocate for or against the New Rochelle to Greens Farms Bypass.
2. We specifically asked Levy to evaluate whether the detailed maps reflected a rough first draft or high-level "vision" -- as claimed by officials at the Federal Railroad Administration and CTDOT -- or a more detailed and polished "site-specific" routing.
3. We asked Levy to evaluate our concerns regarding the adequacy of the existing corridor between New York and New Haven, given projections as part of the 2010 Amtrak Master plan, that traffic along the corridor would exceed capacity by 2030.
1. As we thought... this is no rough-draft crayon drawing. That doesn't mean the routing is set in stone, but rather that the route as drawn likely represents the 'best possible case' in terms of impacts if a bypass were to be built.
2. Why is this important? Well... the lack of a detailed map in the NEC Future Record of Decision does not only offer the flexibility for better outcomes, but for worse ones as well. Levy suggests that future flexibility in some cases is more likely to increase impacts, than reduce them... in particular, through Darien.
3. Levy notes a series of unusually tight curves in the new plan for the New Rochelle to Greens Farms Bypass which would likely be redrawn (with greater impacts) in Tier 2.
4. It's not all bad news, however. Importantly, Levy identifies significant opportunities for improvements within the existing right of way, and without the need for an entirely new bypass. The key for Levy: Tighter scheduling made possible through greater reliability.
5. It's not all far in the future... Levy notes that the soon-to-be-replaced Cos Cob Bridge provides an important opportunity to design for an on-corridor solution.
6. Levy also identifies two key incentives for finding a workable solution: express service for Greenwich Station, as well as the potential for a 20 minute commute from Stamford to New York City.
7. Lastly, Levy identifies a potential compromise with New York State which might help offset some of the outsized impacts to Fairfield County. In fact, one of the worst stretches of rail in terms of time savings along the entire Northeast Corridor is located just west of the Connecticut border. A better fix to this stretch might offset the need for some of the planned impacts in Connecticut.
And that's just a quick sketch of a few highlights, there is much much more in the roughly 5000 word analysis, and we expect a very lively discussion when the plan is published tomorrow on Levy's transit blog, here: pedestrianobservations.com/
this piece on the swearing-in ceremony in Greenwich is worth a read. Here's a bit of the flavor:
"Friday’s swearing in of the Board of Selectmen at Greenwich Town Hall featured an introduction from Greenwich resident Leora Levy, Republican National Committeewoman for Connecticut, who talked about ominous issues that threaten the quality of life in Greenwich, including, 'the nature of our downtown area, the pristine beauty and sanctity of Bruce Park, and even the safety in downtown Greenwich.'
"'She urged elected officials and citizens to work together to fight the proposed Eversource substation and proposed high speed rail from New Rochelle to Greens Farms, which she described as “attempts by unelected outsiders that will adversely effect and threaten Greenwich.," ... See MoreSee Less
First Selectman Marpe requested that Town Attorney Ira Bloom review the Statute of Limitations for appealing the recently issued Record of Decision (ROD), which suggested the modified train station in Greens Farms. The Town of Westport is pleased to announce that the opinion of the prominent law f...
November 8, 2017Hearing on Withdrawing Water from Charlestown to Cool Northern RI Power Plant SteeringCommittee / Charlestown Rhode Island, Invenergy, Mailbox / 2 Comments When: Tuesday, December 5 at 6 p.m. (doors open at 5 p.m.) Where: Charlestown Elementary School, 363 Carolina Back Road (Rt. 112...
Today's Charlestown Citizens Alliance blog post by Planning Commission Chair Ruth Platner takes a deep look into the Charlestown water plan.
As Platner states, the land in question was "transferred with the restriction that it be held in perpetuity for conservation purposes and shall not be improved or developed."
Developing wells at the center of the cedar swamp, a pumping station, and som...
We have significant concerns that the bipartisan Connecticut budget will include a provision for the automatic approval of permits if DEEP does not act within 90 days.
This sort of "streamlining" of permitting and review, which is happening both at the state and federal level, is exactly why we have been fighting to keep the high-speed rail bypass proposals out of Tier 2 planning.
We urge you to contact your state representative to oppose this measure as soon as possible (there will be a vote TODAY). ... See MoreSee Less
Our work over the last two years in southeastern Connecticut and southern Rhode Island toward preventing the Kenyon to Old Saybrook Bypass, we believe, has significantly improved the chances of future alternate inland alignments, whether the so-called "French Route" from New Haven to Springfield to Boston, or the "Storrs Route" from New Haven to Storrs to Providence to Boston. In Connecticut, Congresswoman Esty has consistently advocated for a transportation system which will benefit the economically challenged regions away from the coastline. And although the impacts must be considered carefully, the plausible benefits are there, and should be taken seriously. ... See MoreSee Less
Since the “various public documents available show a range of 15,000 gallons of water per day up to what the Supply Plan states at times ‘approximately 724,320 [gallons per day],’” Charlestown’s interest “is the potential of a material, adverse impact on Charlestown’s water supply as a consequence of the operation of the proposed Power Plant.”
Let me follow up on the topic of a "mitigated FONSI"... it's an important one.
Yesterday, I explained that a "mitigated FONSI" is a common method for streamlining the planning of large-scale infrastructure projects. In simple terms it's a prior negotiated settlement in exchange for agreeing to short circuit the regulatory review process.
In the case of Norwalk, and the Walk Bridge, an entire second stage of regulatory review was avoided in exchange for a package of compensation (financial and otherwise). We are not entirely sure of the details of the settlement, but we do know that a key issue was negotiating an uptempo construction timeline, even at the cost of additional impacts. For business owners, you would think that this would be a good thing.
In the latest news below from Alexander Soule for the Norwalk Hour, however, it appears that many businesses in Norwalk are only now learning that federal regulations do not require compensation for businesses losses caused by disruption.
"In response to a Hearst Connecticut Media query, a Connecticut DOT spokesman indicated compensation for business losses are not covered under existing federal regulations on projects that cause disruption. He added Connecticut DOT has in the past referred businesses that have been displaced by projects to the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development or the federal Small Business Administration for additional assistance.
"DECD has a number of programs to support small businesses, including a Small Business Express program that can award grants or loans on a need-based basis and an Urban Act grant program with wide latitude for varying projects. None are set up specifically, however, to address business disruption as a result of big capital projects that are critical to the larger region."
Given the number of large upcoming and proposed projects along the I-95 and Northeast Corridors, including the Walk Bridge, Cos Cob, Devon and Saugatuck Bridges, as well as suggestions to widen I-95, and the proposed New Rochelle to Greens Farms High-speed Rail Bypass, this is not an inconsiderable concern.
Can small businesses impacts be better addressed as part of the mitigation for a FONSI? We're not sure, but it's certainly something to consider carefully as we move ahead with a variety of projects along the southern New England coastline. ... See MoreSee Less
Any interruption in Northeast Corridor rail service for a single day would cost the U.S. economy $100 million, according to estimates published last spring by the Connecticut Department of Transportation in support of its plans to replace Norwalk's decrepit Walk Bridge. As for the economic costs to…
Insane to think that compensation and pet projects tied to FONSI are anything but greasing the squeaky wheel, or rewarding the loyal advocates. That's how it works in Norwalk, and actually throughout Connecticut, when the the DOT is involved. For Norwalk, some historic properties no where near the actual bridge will probably get some play money, and the city will end up with a bizarre bridge designed to look like prison guard shacks overlooking the city. All this as a high speed DC-to-Boston rail system decimates the future of transportation in Southwest Connecticut... #stopdotzilla
most parties don't realize that there are negotiations, until they are already finished.
"Streamlining" is the buzzword to watch out for in infrastructure planning, and while we are not opposed to reasonable efforts to improve the planning process, and to help ease the burden of addressing a backlog of infrastructure investments along the Northeast Corridor (and elsewhere), the devil, as they say, is in the details
For the last 50 years, any time that federal funding or permitting is required for an infrastructure project, and there is a likelihood that the project will entail a "significant" (think meaningful) impact, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) has required that the government carry out a detailed environmental review, producing a report called an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). NEPA isn't really intended to block projects, it's more of an opportunity to allow for public scrutiny. But scrutiny, does come at the cost of time.
In the case of the Norwalk Walk Bridge -- which CT DOT Commissioner James Redeker recently held up as a model for future projects on the Northeast Corridor -- "streamlining" has meant forgoing the added scrutiny of a detailed environmental impact statement (EIS), in exchange for prior negotiated compensation. Planners refer to this as a "mitigated FONSI" -- a mitigated Finding of No Significant Impact.
In simple terms, a mitigated FONSI puts the cart before the horse. It allows for a quicker process, at the cost of less scrutiny, in exchange for a negotiated compensation. In theory, this expedited process has a value, which can be funneled into a more generous settlement. Why spend money studying the impacts to historic neighborhoods or environmentally-sensitive areas -- particularly in the case of inevitable impacts along the Northeast Corridor -- when you can instead use that money to better mitigate the impacts? If that leaves you a bit uneasy, it should.
But increasingly in both Hartford and in Washington, D.C. there is a broad bipartisan consensus in support of streamlining in a variety of forms. It's why we should watch what happens with the 'model' project in Norwalk over the next years to see how these streamlined procedures work out, because we will being seeing them over the next 10-15 years in coming plans to repair or replace the Cos Cob, Saugatuck, Devon, and Connecticut River bridges along the Northeast Corridor.
And in the case of the controversial New Rochelle to Greens Farms Bypass, the likelihood of some form of streamlining means that, more than ever, communities and local officials need to engage early in the process, rather than simply waiting for later environmental reviews which may never come. ... See MoreSee Less
By request. Here is a link to the slides shown at our presentation in Westport on October 2. This includes the latest detailed maps, a mockup of possible solutions in Greenwich and Darien, a comparable project in California, as well as a bit of transit data driving these plans for a New Rochelle to Greens Farms Bypass.
It is bizarre that anyone thinks choo choo trains and railroads are the key to the future. Come. On.
A productive and positive meeting in Westport last night, attended by about 60 people, including State Reps Gail Lavielle and Jonathan Steinberg, and State Sen. Toni Boucher, and led off by Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe. The meeting was organized and hosted by Marpe, and Ed Gerber of the Westport Historical Society.
The lengthy Q&A was particularly interesting, and strong, with heavy participation from residents of Greens Farms -- a quiet residential section of Westport, and the site of a proposed modified (and likely significantly expanded) transportation hub on the Northeast Corridor. Also notable were the detailed and serious questions by Boucher, who is Deputy Minority Leader, and Co-Chair on the Transportation Committee, as well as by Lavielle and Steinberg, who have been active in engaging the issue over the last months.
Prior to the meeting we met with Marpe, as well as his point person on the issue, Director of Operations Sara Harris, and I can say that town officials are taking a very active, and sober, approach to the issue.
The key question of the night was how to engage a plan which, 20 years from now, could have vast region-wide consequences, or not, when the key point of leverage, and time frame for effective response, closes out in early December 2017. Perhaps the New Rochelle to Greens Farms Bypass will never move beyond the GIS maps. Perhaps the Bypass won't be built in 20 years. Or perhaps this plan will move forward much more quickly with the sort of large-scale infrastructure planning already contemplated on the federal level. The uncertainties and consequences are the sort of things that keep lawyers and officials up at night.
What I will say, is that this issue has grabbed the attention of political leaders in the region, and we are all better off for it. Much much more to come.
One last note.
For almost 2 years SECoast and CT Trust have been working hand-in-hand on the issue of high-speed rail. SECoast started out as an independent collaborative effort with former Executive Director Daniel Mackay of the Trust. Gregory Stroud has served as both Executive Director of SECoast and as Director of Special Projects at the Trust.
As of October 1, Stroud will be leaving the Trust, and returning full-time to SECoast. He will also return to his role as Executive Director. As part of this move, SECoast will be formally rolling away from Connecticut Trust, standing on our own, and taking the lead on infrastructure issues, and rail advocacy, in Fairfield County and southern New England. It's an exciting time, and for SECoast an opportunity to expand, and deepen, our advocacy work, and we look forward to helping preserve and protect the communities of southern coastal New England for years to come.
We'll have much more to say about this in the weeks ahead. Onward. ... See MoreSee Less
Tonight, Monday, October 2, from 6:30 – 8 pm in the Westport Town Hall Auditorium (110 Myrtle Avenue), Gregory Stroud will be joining First Selectman Jim Marpe for a presentation on plans for constructing a new rail corridor through Fairfield County. We hope for a lively Q&A. Please come out, and invite your friends! ... See MoreSee Less
I feel our money could be much better spent constructing another corridor for i95
The rail commute th Grand Central is approx 45 mins from Westport. That same 45 minutes might get you to Greenwich using I-95
I-95 is the single greatest contributor to the erosion of the Quality of Life in Fairfield County
The idea that we are going to spend billions of $$$ on an infrastructure project that affect a small % of the citizen and affect them marginally at best is ridiculous
hoe was the meeting?
A new rail corridor? I thought we all just discussed traffic didn't yield expanding the current one!
In an amazing feat of chutzpah, the FRA has chosen to make a carefully-parsed denial of the validity of the maps.
“The maps posted by SECoast were not produced by FRA,” said Warren Flatau, a spokesman for the federal agency.
Well, let's take a look at the metadata... AECOM, to be clear, is the contractor in charge of mapping environmental impacts for the FRA.
"If after five years and $30 million taxpayer dollars, these plans are such an embarrassment, then why on earth were they approved as part of the July 12 Record of Decision? FRA's denial is incredibly disappointing, but not out of character for what we have long understood as a deeply flawed planning process." - Gregory Stroud, Executive Director, SECoast. ... See MoreSee Less
If after five years and $30 million taxpayer dollars, these plans are such an embarrassment, then why on earth were they approved as part of the July 12 Record of Decision? FRA's denial is incredibly disappointing, but not out of character for what we have long understood as a deeply flawed planning process.
If the FRA is using the maps internally and referring to them in public presentations, then they are effectively certifying the validity of these maps, no matter who produced them.
What time and where on the Monday October 2nd meeting in Westport??
A nice write-up on the implications of high-speed rail planning for Westport and Greens Farms. It's one of the prettiest places in Connecticut, and we'll do our best to help them find the best result for their community... ... See MoreSee Less
WESTPORT - Ahead of a presentation scheduled for Monday at Westport Town Hall on the proposed federal transportation project that could see a high-speed rail built between New Rochelle, N.Y., and Greens Farms, opponents have released detailed maps of the proposed construction. The plan, known as the...
NORWALK, Conn. — Federal plans to expand high-speed rail infrastructure through Connecticut include a tunnel along Interstate-95 in East Norwalk, through Strawberry Hill Avenue and Norden Place.High speed rail line would be dug in a trench along other parts of…
Dumb question but what would that mean for existing structures where they are planning to build the tunnel? The proposed East Norwalk tunnel appears to go under an Assisted Living community and under the the Norden office park
High-Quality maps of NEC Future projects in Fairfield County leaked to the public... with maps of the Kenyon to Old Saybrook Bypass to follow shortly.
"Preservation Advocates Release Previously Undisclosed High-Resolution Maps of Federal Railroad Administration High-speed Rail Bypass Through Fairfield County"
Old Lyme, CT (Sept. 28): For the first time since the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) proposed a significant expansion of high-speed rail infrastructure through Connecticut, the public, and local officials will finally have their first opportunity to examine detailed high-resolution maps of the planned New Rochelle to Greens Farms Bypass through the historic coastal communities of Fairfield County.
On Thursday, the preservation nonprofit SECoast, which earlier partnered with the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation to lead opposition to similar proposals in southeastern Connecticut and southern Rhode Island, released what it says are previously undisclosed high-resolution maps of the proposal. In a statement to the press, the group claimed that while the maps were withheld from the public, and omitted from a Freedom of Information request submitted by the group to the FRA on April 6, 2016, the maps have been freely shared among state and federal agencies for months.
“We have always suspected that state agencies in Connecticut have had access to these high-quality maps,” SECoast Executive Director Gregory Stroud said in a prepared statement, “Now we know for certain that a number other states along the Northeast Corridor have had access to these maps since at least January. You have to wonder what legitimate purpose our own government has for keeping these detailed maps from the public.”
Stroud pointed out that a 1971 D.C. Circuit Court ruling in Calvert Cliffs' Coordinating Committee v. United States Atomic Energy Commission holds federal agencies to a strict standard of “full disclosure,” tempered only by a “rule of reason” for the purposes of informing planning and decision making. Federal Regulations, C.F.R. 1506.6(f), require federal agencies to make “any underlying documents available to the public pursuant to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.”
“We have no interest in delaying sensible solutions and improvements for the Northeast Corridor,” Stroud noted. “We all agree that rail travel is vital for the economy of Connecticut, and for Fairfield County, in particular. But how can we support a plan, when the crucial details and impacts are kept from us?”
The FRA approved the New Rochelle to Greens Farms Bypass as the sole solution for capacity and speed constraints on the Northeast Corridor between New York and New Haven as part of the NEC Future Record of Decision released on July 12, 2017. The Record of Decision will guide state and federal investment, and eligibility for federal matching funds, through at least 2040.
As shown in the newly-released maps, the New Rochelle to Green Greens Farms Bypass will require approximately 29 miles of new right of way, near and alongside the I-95 corridor through the towns of Greenwich, Darien, Westport, Norwalk, and Stamford. This would include significant impacts to historic National Register districts in downtown Greenwich and Cos Cob; the National Historical Landmark Bush-Holley House; Mianus River and its embankments; residential neighborhoods in Darien; Flax Hill, Golden Hill and East Norwalk, in Norwalk; and to substantial commercial real estate in Old Greenwich and Stamford. An additional proposal for an expanded high-speed rail station in Greens Farms, also approved in the Record of Decision, has been met with puzzlement and concern.
“We’re working with town officials and local groups, including Greenwich Preservation Trust, to identify key impacts and areas of concerns, but we’re just scratching the surface,” said Stroud. “On October 2, the Town of Westport and the Westport Historical Society are hosting a public meeting on the plan from 6:30 – 8 pm in the Town Hall Auditorium (110 Myrtle Avenue), and we’ll be there to explain the plan, to answer questions, and to hear your concerns.”
In addition to the release, detailed maps, and further analysis, will be posted to www.SECoast.org
What isn't so clear from the maps, is what this would require to build, including fill, excavation, routing construction materials and trucks, staging areas... a massive, disruptive undertaking for Fairfield County.
Why does it stop in Westport? Someone from WP funding/lobbying this?
Are there updated Kenyon to Old Saybrook Bypass maps available?
In our discussions with planners and transportation staff, we get the sense that for southeastern Connecticut, any serious efforts to widen I-95 will likely be delayed by the overwhelming and long-term costs of reworking I-84. Already, we have significant concerns that the more appealing portions of the I-84 project in Hartford will fall prey to the fiscal realities facing the state for the next few decades, simply replacing a highway in the air with a highway at-grade (or slightly below grade) straight through the urban fabric of the capital.
In Fairfield County, the traffic and the fiscal stakes for the state are so great, that we should not fool ourselves into believing that costs will somehow protect our communities from the larger-scale projects, and potentially vast impacts, posed by widening I-95 and expanded railroad infrastructure.
In one side conversation after the recent meeting in Westport on high-speed rail hosted by Sen. Murphy, one in-the-loop regional thinker explained that the Malloy administration was intent on using the existing right-of-way along I-95 for additional highway infrastructure, pushing an expansion of the Northeast Corridor railroad corridor deeper into the adjoining neighborhoods and commercial districts of Greenwich, Norwalk, Darien, and others.
The existing corridor and I-95 right-of-way will never entirely accommodate NEC Future planning, but there is real fear that the combination of highway and rail expansions will have a vastly greater cumulative impact.
In fact, one of the still-unexplained oddities of NEC Future planning is that the documents, which are required to account for even fairly modest highway projects through 2040 as part of the governing baseline assessment of cumulative impacts, fail to include a single highway project in either Connecticut or Rhode Island. Hmmm... ... See MoreSee Less
If you think you're spending a long time getting to and from work, you can take comfort in knowing you have plenty of company. According to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau, 6.3 percent of Fairfield County commuters spend at least 90 minutes a day just getting to work. This compares w...
Staff at SECoast and the Connecticut Trust sat down on Tuesday with Westerly Town Council member Jean Gagnier, Charlestown Town Council President Virginia Lee, and others, to discuss the next phases of NEC Future.
We also had the chance to learn from Jean more about the Bricks and Murals project in Westerly and Pawcatuck which will bring in several nationally-regarded sign painters from out of state to complete 14 murals for the two towns. Take a look!Did you buy your tickets yet? Only $35 in advance at bricksandmurals.org ... One week until the food stroll! #westerlyri #pawcatuckct #muralart #walldogs #murals #food #community #culture #history #festival #newengland #oceanstate ... See MoreSee Less
The latest news on Bank Street in New London. Brad Schide, a circuit rider for the Connecticut Trust, has been working with New London Landmarks on this project, and with the strong leadership of Laura Natusch, we're optimistic of a good result. ... See MoreSee Less
"...A court hearing for a request for a temporary injunction against Cornish is scheduled for Sept. 25 in New London Superior Court. For the time being, Cornish was ordered not to “demolish or destroy or dismantle” the buildings at 116 and 130 Bank St.
The DECD will argue the buildings should be classified as protected natural resources under the state’s Environmental Protection Act. Cornis...
The minimal necessary investments into the Northeast Corridor included in NEC Future, about $35 billion over the next 10-15 years, are referred to collectively as a "state of good repair" (SOG) -- basically, what it will require for the existing corridor to function as properly.
Taken as a whole, a "state of good repair" is uncontroversial, but that doesn't mean that it will be easy, or without large-scale impacts to communities along the corridor, particularly in tightly-packed Fairfield County.
Given that CTDOT Commissioner James Redeker recently identified the on-going SOG work on the Norwalk "Walk Bridge" as a model process, we should pay careful attention as the project moves forward, to understand how it works, how it doesn't, and what we can do to improve upon the latter. ... See MoreSee Less
NORWALK - The Connecticut Department of Transportation this month tamped down talk that it might raze The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk to make room for the replacement of the Walk Bridge. The IMAX Theater stands to be the only acquisition at the Aquarium at 10 North Water St., according DOT spokesma...
At the August 15 meeting in Stamford, Senator Blumenthal made exactly this point... not to say less, but rather different. His point was that the New Rochelle to Greens Farms plan matters, now that it's in the books, whether the Malloy administration supports it or not (which remains an open question). ... See MoreSee Less
"So, in some sense what NEC Future does is paint this philosophy of investment for our future with no money and no projects, the State of Connecticut has a vision with no money yet, right, we pledged 2.8 billion against 100 billion so far and 5 years, 70% of that is in the railroad. All about state of good repair. So, our…effectively in Connecticut for Connecticut anything that’s programmed is in a capital plan, or potentially in a vision document, it’s all transparent, it’s all here, it’s all listed, there are no bypasses anywhere."
This sounds like more $ for them to spend! Fix what we have Too many accidents.
Senator Chris Murphy held a meeting yesterday in Westport on the issue of high-speed rail for Connecticut, and for Fairfield County in particular. Needless to say, it was a very interesting event, with the senator advocating strongly for some version of the New Rochelle to Greens Farms Bypass, and further suggesting that the Kenyon to Old Saybrook Bypass was far from settled. Most striking was dead seriousness of the conversation, and discussion of the proposals... I'd strongly encourage you to watch at least Senator Murphy's opening statement.
Golfer registration ends Friday, September 8th. Sponsor registration ends Tuesday, August 29th.
Will you sponsor a hole? Or sign-up a foursome and walk where Arnold Palmer and Bobby Jones have played? Or network at dinner with architects, developers, brokers, and contractors? ... See MoreSee Less
“It’s not simple solutions that we need to look at right now but hard choices and realistic choices,” he said. “For Rhode Island and Connecticut that means a hard look at an inland route and what that means,” he added. “Ultimately that means whether to continue along the coast, which would eventually lead to a Kenyon to Old Saybrook bypass, or go inland, that’s the real choice here.” ... See MoreSee Less
Thanks to Jim Cameron and Darien TV79, we have a video of the meeting yesterday in Stamford, hosted by Senator Blumenthal, with CTDOT Commissioner Redeker, and leaders of Greenwich, Darien, Westport, Norwalk, and Stamford, as well as Francis Perkins, executive director of WestCOG [note that due to privacy settings, you will have to watch this video on the mother site at Vimeo]This is "High Speed Rail Meeting 8-15-17" by Darien TV79 on Vimeo, the home for high quality videos and the people who love them. ... See MoreSee Less
the latest of high-speed rail through Fairfield County... a nice report on the meeting this morning between Senator Blumenthal, CT Commissioner Redeker and the leaders of Greenwich, Darien, Westport, Norwalk, and Stamford. ... See MoreSee Less
Stamford — Fresh off a recent victory in southeastern Connecticut, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and activists have begun organizing opposition to a second federally proposed rail bypass. This time, the fight is in lower Fairfield County.
Senator Blumenthal will hold a meeting between ConnDOT and municipal officials on the NEC Future recommendations on the track from Greenwich to Greens Farms from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday August 15th in the Stamford Government Center 6th floor training room (888 Washington Boulevard, Stamford). ... See MoreSee Less
Back in early July, thanks to pressure and backlash from the public, the Federal Railway Administration dropped their proposal for an interstate, high-speed rail bypass, part of a larger project called NEC Future, that would have cut
Southeastern Connecticuters! Do you recognize this site? It is near and dear to our staff’s hearts. Seaside is nationally significant as the first purpose-built facility in the U.S. for sunlight treatment of tuberculosis in children. It was designed by prominent architect, Cass Gilbert, who also designed several other buildings including the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C.
CT DEEP i...
How about giving it back to the developer, Mark Steiner, so he can create jobs and tax revenue for the Town. Gov. Malloy created another expense for the State of CT when he broke the contract with Mr. Steiner and took back the property. The State doesn't need another expense they need revenue!!
The latest installment from public radio on the the rail issue, this time in Fairfield County, where plans to replace the century-old Norwalk Walk Bridge are well into the final stages, a sign of what's to come for the Devon, Cos Cob, and Saugatuck bridges in Fairfield County, and the Connecticut River bridge in Middlesex and New London Counties.
For all the controversy recently focused on the New Rochelle to Greens Farms Bypass and Kenyon to Old Saybrook Bypass, the reality is that much of the impact of NEC Future over the next decade is contingent on the success and best-possible planning of these less-discussed projects. That will require early engagement from the public and affected communities. If Norwalk offers any lesson for Connecticut, it's that simply leaving the decision-making to the Federal Transit Administration and Connecticut DOT is not an option which will make anyone happy in the long run. ... See MoreSee Less
With the high-speed rail bypass through Old Lyme sidelined from NEC Future planning, the Florence Griswold Museum offers a great example of how preservationism can be a handmaiden for a rich and better regional economy and quality of life. Great news! ... See MoreSee Less
$1 Million Grant from the Robert F. Schumann Foundation
Sparks Implementation of Landscape Plan
for the Florence Griswold Museum. The grant will allow the Museum to implement a transformative landscape master plan designed to completely re-envision how the historic landscape is interpreted by providing visitors with a more authentic sense of the Lyme Art Colony painters’ interaction with the l...
[Westport First Selectman Jim] Marpe said, “My fellow chief elected officials and I have stated a desire to form a coalition and regional response to this proposal through our participation in WestCOG. We have a long fight ahead of us, but Westport’s history of fighting and winning these kinds of battles gives me optimism that common sense will prevail.” ... See MoreSee Less
Greenwich Community TV (GCTV-79) will be rebroadcasting two in-depth discussions on plans for high-speed rail through Fairfield County, the so-called "New Rochelle to Greens Farms Bypass' through Riverside, Darien, Westport, Norwalk, and Stamford.
Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation Presentation on High Speed Rail
1 hour, 44 minutes Category: Public Affairs Producer: GCTV Broadcast Dates and Times (next two weeks)
High Speed Rail Meeting
1 hour, 33 minutes Category: Public Affairs Producer: GCTV Broadcast Dates and Times (next two weeks) Wednesday, August 2, 1:10 PM Saturday, August 5, 2:10 PM ... See MoreSee Less