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?
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
Now that the Kenyon to Old Saybrook Bypass has been dropped from Tier 2 NEC Future planning, what sorts of issues, impacts and opportunities would be determined as part of a New Haven to Providence Capacity Planning Study?
It's a bit over 4 years old, but this piece by Alon Levy still offers the best primer for understanding the issue. If you are seriously interested in finding a better solution for transit through southern New England, whether along the coastline or through Hartford, this is a must read. ... See MoreSee Less
Thank you to CT Trust for Historic Preservation, SECoast, and the Greenwich Preservation Trust.
Here is a video of our April 26, 2017 meeting in Greenwich, CT on the topic of NEC Future high-speed rail. A 30 minute presentation followed by an hour of Q&A. We had great participation from Jayme Stevenson, Gail Lavielle, Fred Camillo, and others... please take a look, and share with your friends down in Fairfield County.The Federal Railroad Admin is proposing new high speed rail tracks from New Rochelle to Greens Farms. This informational meeting explains the plan and its effect… ... See MoreSee Less
[...] the agency said to be successful, it must be subject to the same regulations as other railroads to further its "ability to achieve the transportation, environmental, and economic benefits the high-speed rail system has to offer." Central Valley farmers concerned about the bullet train's effect...
Here is CTDOT Commissioner James Redeker in an interesting interview worth parsing. This is the second significant interview by Redeker since the Record of Decision was announced. The other appeared in the Sunday edition of the Connecticut Post.
High-speed rail discussion draws standing room only crowd to Greenwich GREENWICH — A critic of a proposed high-speed rail system through parts of Connecticut’s Gold Coast said unity, political pressure and pull may be the only way to stop the plan’s progress. “The broader the coalition and the more…
the point of NEC Future planning over the near-term, is not to so much to build the "vision," or fund it, but rather to move a whole raft of projects, including the New Rochelle to Greens Farms Bypass, through key stages of environmental review. Turning to the longer term, it's the prospect of a 80%-20% federal funding match -- meaning that Connecticut would only be on the hook for 20 cents on the dollar --which will get these projects built.
That is what Richard Kirkpatrick means by "incentives" in the excerpt below from the piece. ...
"Significant federal funding participation is needed to create incentives for states to participate,” said Richard Kirkpatrick, spokesman for PennDot. “Without that federal investment, it will be difficult to achieve the FRA vision” to improve the Northeast Corridor. ... See MoreSee Less
In December, politicians expressed hope that a proposed $1 trillion infrastructure package from then President-elect Trump could help make the Northeast Corridor Futures project a reality, but six months into Trump's presidency, there has been little movement on a significant infrastructure bill.
The Greenwich Time previews our 1 pm Wednesday meeting in Greenwich at Town Hall. Wes Haynes, and Greg Stroud, and members of the board from the Connecticut Trust will be on hand for an important meeting on high-speed rail ... See MoreSee Less
An East Coast high-speed rail plan is still in its design phase with no announced plans to go forward. The proposal to build a raised high speed rail track to connect Boston and Washington, D.C., is through a federal and state partnership, NEC Future, which looks at ways to modernize high speed rail...
Together we stopped the Kenyon to Saybrook Bypass through southern New England, but you won't believe what the Federal Railroad Administration is proposing for Greenwich, Darien, Westport, Norwalk, and Stamford.
Take a look at our map, and please share with your friends and relatives in Fairfield County. Whether you're a proponent or opponent, it's important that you engage with this project as early as possible... that's where all the leverage is.
So... you're wondering what to make of Hyperloops and Maglevs and other more exotic super-high-speed rail technologies? I'd encourage you to take a look at Alon Levy's latest piece on the subject. He's a wonk, but always a good read. ... See MoreSee Less
SECoast heads south. Greg Stroud and Wes Haynes of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation will be speaking on plans for the New Rochelle to Greens Farms Bypass through Fairfield County. Wednesday July 26, 1 pm, second-floor Cone room, Greenwich Town Hall. We expect a lively question and answer, with elected officials and local leaders in attendance. Please come out and invite your friends and neighbors. ... See MoreSee Less
A federal plan to improve Northeast rail service calls for laying miles of new track through densely populated Fairfield County — a massive undertaking that would disrupt residents and businesses, and likely require property seizures. The plan to increase train capacity and high-speed rail service i...
one if not the -- worse rail systems in the world......
Wondering if anybody from those big corporations are going to attend.
A bad idea 150 years too late
The details are important. But upgrading rail service and moving to high speed rail service should be priorities. The current system is grossly inadequate for the 20th century must less for the 21st. Time to prepare for the future.
Jane Montanaro, the new interim executive director for the Connecticut Trust, Laura Natusch, the new executive director of New London Landmarks, and Greg Stroud, of CT Trust and SECoast, sat down a few days ago with the editorial board of the New London Day... here is the result. A serious, thoughtful piece, worth a read and a little contemplation. Onward. ... See MoreSee Less
The Town of Branford is sponsoring an informational meeting on the NEC Future Record of Decision. Greg Stroud, co-founder of SECoast and Director of Special Projects at the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, will be speaking and taking questions on the issue. It should be fun.
Wednesday, July 19th, 2017 - 7pm at the Branford Firehouse, 45 N. Main Street. ... See MoreSee Less
The first rally anywhere against NEC Future was rescheduled for May 1, 2016. Lucky for us Gil Boro hosted, and kept us out of the rain and cold. Dini Mallory and Robin Breeding, co-founders of SECoast, organized the event. Dan Stevens and Clayton Allen, the Shrivers, Eleanor Robinson, and Sophia Griswold, provided the live music. At the time we were struggling to get anyone to take the issue seriously, but Devin Carney and Paul Formica were there to give their support. Daniel Mackay was there and the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation co-sponsored the event. Olwen Logan covered the event for LymeLine. Documents obtained later through the Freedom of Information Act showed CTDOT officials circulating Logan's write-up.
Looking back, who would have guessed how this would turn out? Thanks to all, and to many more, who helped out... ... See MoreSee Less
The Local Motives... Dick, Rich, and Barbara Shriver, with Eleanor Robinson
Strumming and humming our way through vintage train songs that helped propel a movement to a sensible decision by the FRA. Grateful.
Amazing what can happen when we all raise our voices together.
"[Rob] Simmons also called the decision “one of the biggest citizen victories in this area in 20 years,” and compared the achievement to saving the Naval Submarine Base in 2005 ... “The citizens and activists in Old Saybrook, in Charlestown, in Stonington and a lot of cities bubbled up and worked with the local officials and federal delegation, (and) they made a compelling case.”
That's ALL of us together... and we saw firsthand Rob's ability to work both sides of the border in a way that was crucial to our early efforts to rally Westerly to the effort. ... See MoreSee Less
If the FRA is so concerned about decreasing the time from Boston to NYC, they might want to try something else...airplanes!
In today's technology, wouldn't teleconferencing be quicker and less expensive?
As we work through the Record of Decision, including 2600+ pages of public comment, summaries and responses from the Federal Railroad Administration, I'd like to briefly touch on a few key issues for communities across Connecticut and Rhode Island, and I'd like to ask a favor. Read on!
For communities stretching from east of New Haven to Providence, where the Federal Railroad Administration has dropped plans for a "Kenyon to Old Saybrook Bypass," from the just-released Record of Decision... a note of caution.
If you turn to Appendix A page 28 of the Record of Decision, we have identified a provision in the document which clearly suggests an intent to revisit 'dropped' plans to quad-track between Branford and Guilford stations in Connecticut, as well as to revisit plans for a Kenyon to Old Saybrook Bypass through the historic district in Old Lyme.
This is a bit technical, but here is the key portion of text:
........ snip.......... Accordingly, the Selected Alternative includes the requirement for a capacity planning study (the New Haven to Providence Capacity Planning Study), in partnership with Connecticut and Rhode Island, that will identify on- and off-corridor infrastructure elements to achieve the service and performance objectives of the Selected Alternative between New Haven and Providence. The New Haven to Providence Capacity Planning Study will encompass the geographic area within the following limits: along the Hartford/Springfield Line from New Haven to Hartford, from Hartford to Providence, and along the existing NEC from New Haven to Providence. This study area includes the areas considered for capacity expansion between Branford to Guilford, CT, and Old Saybrook, CT, to Kenyon, RI. Completion of a New Haven to Providence Capacity Planning Study for this area will be a pre-condition to any Tier 2 projects that are intended to increase capacity. .........snip..........
We can't really think of any reason to mention these 'dropped' routes specifically in the Record of Decision, other than to guide later planning, and to assure that plans for the Kenyon to Old Saybrook Bypass, and Quadtracking between Branford and Guilford are reintroduced into decision making at a later date.
When? The best answer, as usual, is in a piece by Ana Radelat for the Connecticut Mirror. The key quote:
......snip............... "There is no timetable for the capacity study, allowing for “a healthy process” to determine how to improve rail service in eastern Connecticut, said Rebecca Reyes-Alicia, who is managing the Northeast Corridor project for the agency."
She also said “there was no consensus” for the proposed Old Saybrook to Rhode Island bypass. .......snip.............
As a benchmark, we hope that that by a "healthy process," Reyes-Alicia means more, not less, public participation.
Now while this eastern portion, which impacts towns from Branford, CT to Charlestown, RI falls asleep, what will be happening to the west in Fairfield County?
Three days ago, I spend two hours ago being briefed on the plan by a rail insider, and his take was this:
Pay attention to the New Rochelle to Greens Farms Bypass, because that's "where the action is."
If you don't know already, the NEC Future Record of Decision selected this bypass as a solution to transportation problems in north/east of New York City. This plan proposes simply enormous impacts to the historic coastline towns in Fairfield County, including Riverside, Cos Cob, Stamford, and Darien.
So when does this planning start?
Our source tells us, that there is already an early working group at the CT DOT tasked with moving ahead piecemeal with the New Rochelle to Greens Farms Bypass. Last night, this was pretty much confirmed by Sue Haigh, in a piece for the Associated Press. Another must-read. Here is the key section:
.......snip................ Connecticut DOT Commissioner James Redeker said his agency first plans to examine ways to improve service frequency and travel times between New Haven and New York City. The FRA's updated blueprint calls for improvements including additional railroad tracks, station and system upgrades, and the replacement of aging moveable bridges. A state-funded, $3 million consultant's study is already underway. Redeker said DOT hopes to identify short-term initiatives in the next two years, followed by longer-term infrastructure upgrades.
"We're sort of actually ahead of the game in terms of moving forward in Connecticut," he said, adding how there is not an immediate rush to work with Rhode Island on the New Haven-to-Providence stretch of the rail line because there isn't money available to make the improvements. ........snip...............
This raises a few key questions: Who is conducting the study? When did the study begin? What are the parameters of the study? And how could CT DOT begin a "state-funded $3 million dollar consultant's study" without some prior knowledge of the decision to select the New Rochelle to Greens Farms Bypass as part of the Record of Decision?
So... it's pretty clear that there is no time for delay, and that we need to actively engage communities in southwestern Connecticut in this process as soon as possible. The best solutions -- and there will be solutions -- will require serious, immediate, and informed engagement from the public and elected officials in Greenwich, Stamford and Darien.
And that brings me to that favor I'm asking of you... it's a small state. I know all of our readers have friends and family living in Fairfield County. Please reach out to them... explain to them what we've accomplished here east of New Haven, and encourage them to "like" or "follow" our page on Facebook, or sign up for our newsletter on our website at SECoast.org.
For everyone living along the New Rochelle to Greens Farms Bypass, this is just getting started, and they are going to need all the help they can get. And lastly: PLEASE SHARE THIS POST. ... See MoreSee Less
Keep your eyes on SEC and CTDOT. SEC is doing a good job of keeping us informed. TY Joanne Bouknight for posting.
When Rebecca Reyes-Alicia says "healthy" - imo, she is using a vague, subjective term.Specific commitment to public input is what is called for. Please watch this video, even though it is long, because this agenda has found its way into our local ordinances, and it is not good. www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ykELwj1Ta8
Ann Luedke Lobdell. Share this with your New Caanan friend
Thanks for the updates. We need modernization and must accept SOME, but the least disruptive changes.
Thanks Katie for taking the time to share this with us. Pretty involved... Xx
They are fighting hard against this in Maryland too. What a mess. We need to stay vigilant.
The first public event anywhere in southern New England to oppose the Kenyon to Old Saybrook Bypass. It was planned for Nancy Stula's backyard, April 10, 2016, but was canceled when it threatened to snow. At the time, we were asked to change the name of the event. They told us "Daffodil Riot" was inappropriate and provocative. Ha. ... See MoreSee Less
We have been overwhelmed with media outreach and interviews over the last 24 hours...I am sorry that we have been very quiet here on the site today as a result. We will have much more detailed analysis of the next few days, but let me briefly explain what has just happened.
We see this as a split decision. For southeastern Connecticut, this Record of Decision offers a major reprieve from the impacts of the proposed Kenyon to Old Saybrook Bypass. Quadtracking between Branford and Guilford has also been dropped from the plan. But in contrast, in Fairfield County, the Federal Railroad Administration has selected a New Rochelle to Greens Farms rail bypass which poses equally significant economic, historic, and environmental impacts. It's reasonable for residents of Norwalk, Darien, and Greenwich to ask why they were treated differently.
I would like to say that the early, strong, and bipartisan leadership on the issue from Senator Blumenthal, Congressman Courtney, State Sen. Formica and State Rep. Carney played no small part in the particular success we've achieved east of New Haven. Rob Vavasour in Guilford and Jon Wilson in Stony Creek deserve significant thanks for their grassroots work on the Branford and Guilford quadtracking. I believe it was crucial. Jo Conboy and the Greenwich Preservation Trust have been strong advocates in Fairfield County, and we intend to work vigorously to reach a good result there despite the disappointing selection of the New Rochelle to Greens Farms Bypass as part of the Record of Decision. Lisa Konicki, executive director of the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce has been enormously effective and influential both in Rhode Island and in Connecticut. And let me say that the entire Northeast Corridor owes a debt of gratitude to the leadership and work, late in coming, but remarkably effective, from the Charlestown Citizens Alliance, and the Charlestown government. It has been a model effort on their part as a local government. Let us all learn from them.
We believe that the announced NEC Future Record Of Decision represents significant progress. It is a victory of sorts. And we believe that the sort of changes affected in the Record of Decision are unprecedented in a federal project of this type and scope. That said, until we arrive at a solution to real capacity, speed, and resiliency issues along the Northeast Corridor through southeastern Connecticut and southern Rhode Island, there remains a significant threat to Old Lyme, Mystic, Stonington, Westerly and Charlestown, as well as to Branford, Guilford and Stony Creek.
As proposed, the Record of Decision requires a 2:45 travel time between Boston and New York, and proposes a planning process which would partner the CT DOT, RI DOT with the FRA to develop a solution that delivers this federally-mandated result. As such, there is much work ahead. This Record of Decision does not assure a good solution, nor does it assure a better process, it does however, provide the communities of southeastern Connecticut with a some breathing room. As we move forward SECoast and the Connecticut Trust will continue to engage this issue, and push for a better planning process in the next stage. We do not expect this new planning process in southeastern Connecticut or southern Rhode Island to be an immediate priority for the FRA.
So... yes, let's celebrate.... you deserve it... and then let's roll up our sleeves and get back at it... ... See MoreSee Less
I can solve it far cheaper and faster. That are called airplanes and for the 100's of billions we can fly a lot of them. Rail travel is already bordering obsolescence but with the fully autonomous vehicles becoming a large reality over the next 20 years, these hapless dopes are as current as cavemen.
Great work! The campaigns and letters and emails really did make a difference. The ROD used very diplomatic language regarding "feedback" they received. I'll bet a few of those letters were less than diplomatic. The coalition formed here needs to remain vigilant, however of any new projects that claim to fix rail service with a broad stroke of the pen.
So basically Stonington and the area still have to worry about possible significant impact on the communities? Umm....so why did a previous post say we can breathe a sigh of relief? Seems that nothing was "won" today...IMO
To Greg and team: Thank you thank you THANK YOU! We have been so blessed to have you paying attention to all this and advocating to save our communities. Yes, the fight isn't completely over. But without your wonderful efforts to date, we'd be sunk. We are grateful!!
Nice work Gregory Stroud and team...and supporters.
Thanks to all of the people fighting to preserve our lovely, historical communities!
This is such welcome fabulous news I could go jump off the train bridge a shout hurray! Thank Goodness someone had some sense but a hair brain idea! Now just fix the tracks we have now! The bridge is in terrible disrepair! Thanks to ALL who spend countless hours! Thank yu to the public for speaking out! Thank yu to Didi Dini Mallory! Thank you Greg! Thank yu all!
It is one Happy Day in Old Lyme and other towns !
Increase commuter and connecting flights from Groton and new haven might lighten the load of I-95 traffic between Boston and DC.
If the Government realy wants it it will happen one way or another
Mark my words
Thank you for all you folks are doing!
I have mixed feelings on this.
Good that historic and fragile areas have been protected from intrusion, destruction and disruption.
I see no mention here of a path forward to have faster and more efficient train travel between Boston and NYC. In that regard, this effort is simply one big NIMBY: Not In My Back Yard.
This effort needs more than a big loud "NOT HERE!!!" It needs solutions that don't harm existing areas. Maybe tunnels under certain areas. I don't know. Improved rail can help reduce highway congestion - who doesn't want that improvement?
So here comes the back side of the two-year long hurricane. The eye of the storm has lingered for several months, with a fury ahead. Fingers crossed - we've worked this hard and the region and its communities deserve a clear win.
Any word? I see the Courtney announcement re: Kenyon Pass on Twitter but am wondering results in substance...
FRA and RI and CT DOTs are obligated to launch a new study for potential routes between New Haven and Providence. As such, NO recommended new routes, new infrastructure (bridge or tunnel) in SE CT. The possibility remains that a new study could return to these routes or infrastructure options, but there are no prescriptions in the ROD. Notably, the study area boundary includes the possibility that a New Haven - Hartford - Storrs - Providence route is back in play.
Buried in the ROD is acknowledgment that your letters and emails worked and were heard, at least en masse:
"While the feedback suggests that there is support for moving forward with implementing
the Grow Vision, it also helped clarify that finding a solution to address the capacity, performance,
and resiliency needs of the NEC between New Haven, CT, and Providence, RI, will require further
study before the Tier 2 NEPA process can begin in that portion of the corridor."
We will have a significant statement out in a few hours...
There is news afoot... but here is the latest from Senator Blumenthal in response to the nomination of a new head of the Federal Railroad Administration. Once again, welcome support on NEC Future from the senior senator. .......... BLUMENTHAL STATEMENT ON NOMINATION OF RON BATORY TO LEAD FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) issued the following statement regarding the nomination of Ron Batory to lead the Federal Railroad Administration.
“If confirmed, Ron Batory will be tasked with bringing our country’s aging rail network into the 21st century—an immense responsibility with tremendous opportunity to support job growth and economic development in Connecticut and nationwide. When he comes before the Commerce Committee, I will seek firm, specific commitments from him with regards to rail safety and reliability, including assurances that he will ensure on-time nationwide installation of life-saving Positive Train Control technology. The deadline for implementation of PTC is now just a year and a half away and the need for leadership at FRA could not be more urgent. Batory must also explicitly disavow the harmful and impractical FRA proposal to plow new train tracks through historic towns like Old Lyme and parts of Fairfield County and Southwestern Connecticut. Those deeply problematic portions of the FRA’s NEC FUTURE plan must be scrapped while maintaining the FRA’s reasonable and responsible commitment to enhancing service throughout the Metro-North system and along the Hartford-Springfield line. I look forward to continued close collaboration with the FRA on efforts to enhance rail service and safety in Connecticut and nationwide.” .......... ... See MoreSee Less
I haven't found any statements from Rhode Islands two senators yet. Have I missed something? Will be waiting on this issue.
Connecticut’s Historic Preservation Council voted unanimously this afternoon to recommend involvement by the State Attorney General’s Office to prevent the demolitions of 116 and 130 Bank Street in downtown New London. Below is testimony given at the hearing by Laura Natusch, the new executive director of New London Landmarks. Take a look......
I’m Laura Natusch, executive director of New London Landmarks, and I appreciate the opportunity to speak in front of you today.
Brad Schide from CT Trust for Historic Preservation has shown that a feasible, prudent alternative to demolition exists for both buildings. I’m here to talk about the incredible level of support we have for preserving these buildings and about why that support exists.
We have a letter of support from Mayor Michael Passero. Those of you who attended the SHPO conference in May also heard Mayor Passero speak about the importance of historic preservation and our efforts to save these buildings during the mayoral panel discussion.
We have a resolution passed unanimously by the New London City Council and a supporting letter from our Historic District Commission.
We have 1518 petition signatures asking for your help today. About 400 of these signatures came from online petitions, but over eleven hundred people signed in person. We gathered these signatures with very little canvassing: under ten hours.
Most of these signatures came from the efforts of the downtown business community. Seventeen downtown business owners displayed the petition in their businesses and encouraged their customers to sign or allowed us to gather signatures during their special events. Another thirteen downtown business owners signed the petition without displaying it, usually because they had no available counter space.
Our regional newspaper, The Day, editorialized that not only should these buildings be saved, but that the City of New London should use this threat to Bank Street’s historic streetscape as an opportunity to codify its vision for Bank Street in its Plan for Conservation and Development. In one of several pro-preservation columns, David Collins wrote, “If you ruin the historic fabric of the downtown with precedent-setting demolition, you are snuffing out renaissance potential.”
We’ve received twenty-seven letters of support, ten of which came from local and regional organizations including Hygienic Arts, the Southeastern Connecticut Cultural Coalition, New London Main Street, Hope, Inc., Thames River Heritage Park Foundation, Hodges Square Village Association and the Connecticut branch of the Sierra Club. They spoke about issues such as the link between historic streetscapes and economic revitalization, the regional importance of and investments we’ve already made in heritage tourism, the environmental impacts of demolition vs. rehabilitation, and about what the wrecking ball has already taken from our city.
So why is there such an outpouring of support for the preservation of these buildings?
To understand that, you have to understand a little bit about New London. We’re an old port city. We’re the Whaling City. We have WPA whaling murals in our downtown post office, a ten-foot tall whale tale fountain across from Union Station, our high school athletes are Whalers, we buy beer at Whaling City Spirits.
But nowhere is our maritime heritage more evident than on Bank Street, named for the bank of the Thames River. When you approach Bank Street from the water, you see the same buildings that nineteenth century whalers saw when they sailed into port. When you walk down Bank Street, you’re walking past sea captains’ homes and sailors’ boarding houses. Bank Street has always been both the heart of our downtown and the heart of our maritime activity. If you dismantle that streetscape, we’re no longer the Whaling City. Without that streetscape, all our Whaler’s pride is just window dressing. Those Bank Street buildings are the windows.
And here’s something else about New London: we’ve lost a lot of historic buildings and neighborhoods, and those losses hurt. Many of the people who wrote letters or commented on our petition spoke about neighborhoods razed and families uprooted. More than one of them likened these losses to the 1781 torching of New London by Benedict Arnold--which isn’t an obscure or forgotten history for us. We have an annual festival where we gather behind Bank Street—right behind these two buildings—and raise our fists, and yell, “Fie! Fie!” as we burn Benedict Arnold in effigy.
116 Bank Street was probably the very beginning of Bank Street’s rebirth after Benedict Arnold’s fires. It was built between 1786 and 1789—we believe it’s the oldest building on the water side of Bank Street--and its first owner was a baker who supplied bread to the Continental Army. Underneath its siding, it’s one of very few wooden structures on Bank Street, where wooden construction was banned in the early 1800’s. In the nineteenth century, it became a sailor’s boarding house, then a mission. It’s where the forty-two drowning victims from the steamship Atlantic were laid out in preparation for burial. 130 Bank Street was built in 1828, as New London was recovering from the blockade of 1812 and beginning to prosper with whaling money. Its original owner, John Deshon, became a sea captain in 1798 when he was twenty-one years old. His brother co-founded New London’s whaling industry in 1819.
Together, these buildings tell the story of New London’s recovery and ultimate resurgence as the second largest whaling port in the world. But they also tell another facet of New London’s history. A boarding house next to a wealthy sea captain’s home: then as now, downtown New London was everyone’s neighborhood. It’s where the rich and poor have always rubbed shoulders.
Maybe this is why so many people used the word “our” when they told us why they were writing letters or signing our petition: our downtown, our city, our heritage.
This gets to the core of the tension between Mr. Cornish’s private property rights and the rights of the public. If historic buildings are resources in which the public has a trust, then surely that trust is amplified in a municipality’s downtown.
The irony is that if Mr. Cornish were to tear down 116 and 130 Bank Street and replace them with a larger, new building, he would then be able to market his apartments as being located along New London’s historic waterfront. His profit margin would hinge on his neighbors not doing what he hopes the state will allow him to do--yet he argues that he has the right to diminish the value of their properties by demolishing a chunk of the historic streetscape upon which this community depends.
What makes the threat of demolition hard to swallow even for people who are not hard-core preservationists is Mr. Cornish’s lack of architectural plans. He has not hired an architect, nor does he intend to hire an architect until after the buildings are demolished. What little he has said about his intentions are contradictory. In April, at the Historic District Commission meeting, he said that he wants to tear 130 Bank Street down to its foundation and build something taller but with the same footprint. In May, he said that he wants to build a much larger residential building encompassing both lots.
We believe that Mr. Cornish has spent no more time exploring alternatives to demolition than he has spent developing architectural plans. We hope that by recommending involvement by the State Attorney General, you will bring everyone to the table to have a serious discussion about what those alternatives could look like.
We’re optimistic that if we work together, we can find a solution. New London’s downtown real estate market is booming, and a number of long-neglected buildings are being rehabbed with care and sensitivity. Historic apartments with water views are renting for prices considerably higher than the rents CT Trust used to show how rehabbing these buildings could be profitable.
In conclusion, the people of New London are clamoring for your help in preserving 116 and 130 Bank Street. These buildings comprise a substantial portion of a beloved historic streetscape, they are both either sound or repairable, and Mr. Cornish has not provided any plans which would justify their loss. We believe that the demolitions of 116 and 130 Bank Street in New London would be unreasonable, and we ask that you recommend involvement by the State Attorney General to prevent them. ... See MoreSee Less
Today, Connecticut’s Historic Preservation Council voted unanimously to recommend involvement by the State Attorney General’s Office to prevent the demolitions of 116 and 130 Bank Street in downtown New London.
With this vote, the Council has made it much more likely that we’ll be able to save these historic buildings and keep this stretch of Bank Street intact.
Our next goal is to work ...
HAMDEN, Conn. — A recent announcement by the Federal Railroad Administration that the $1.1 billion Susquehanna River Rail Bridge Project on the Northeast Corridor in Maryland poses “no significant impact,” drew sharp rebukefrom Daniel Mackay, executive director of the Connecticut Trust for H
Meet Laura Natusch, the new Executive Director of New London Landmarks -- one of our key partners for preservation in southeastern Connecticut. A thoughtful informal discussion.New London Landmarks' new executive director Laura Natusch speaks with show host and New London Landmarks board member Marty Olsen. Topics range from Ms. Nat... ... See MoreSee Less
Stop me if this sounds familiar: a small town with a National Register Historic District of outsized significance, a fragile real estate market, located at the mouth of a very large river which flows into an ecologically-sensitive tidal estuary, a critical habitat for Atlantic Sturgeon, the site of a National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) where scientists concern themselves with silting, a place where the busy Northeast Corridor crosses over an outmoded two-track century-old lift bridge, where recreational boaters, commuter rail, and high-speed Acela traffic negotiate schedules limited by bridge openings and closings, a place where the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) plans a new high-speed rail crossing routed through a historic district and promises a bridge and aerial structure that will meet the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. Local residents are told that the project is essential to the health of the Northeast, that the project has no funding, that it likely won’t be built for another decade, at least.
Old Lyme, Connecticut? No Havre de Grace, Maryland. But here is where the narrative come apart…
Three days ago, in Havre de Grace, the FRA announced a “Finding of No Significant Impact” (FONSI) for the high-speed rail crossing through the town. Here’s an explanation of what that means from the Baltimore Sun:
The finding of no significant impact means officials do not have to complete a more in-depth environmental impact statement, according to the project website.
[Jacqueline] Thorne, [project manager at] the MDOT, called an environmental impact statement "the most detailed study there is in terms of the environment."
Project leaders conducted their environmental assessment during the four-year study period, as they evaluated impacts in areas such as water quality and wildlife.
"All of those things were evaluated, and it was not felt that we needed to go much deeper," Thorne said.
Project leaders are also expected to work with local, state and federal agencies to minimize impacts to districts and structures in the path of the rail line, such as the historic district in downtown Havre de Grace, Rodgers Tavern in Perryville and the historic interlocking tower at Perryville's train station complex, according to the report.
To help you understand what this FONSI looks like, I’ve attached a photograph of the existing structure and of the new project, as well as a map of the historic district. Take a look at what counts as a historically-sensitive infrastructure design.
So, what do town leaders have to say about the high-speed rail plan?
"The project will have a huge impact on the city and the region, and we're urging everyone to get familiar with the FONSI," Patrick Sypolt, Havre de Grace's director of administration, said during a recent City Council meeting.
"The landscape of our city is going to change in the next 10 years," Havre de Grace Mayor Bill Martin said at Monday night's City Council meeting, "whether we want it to or not."
"And it's going to stay that way for 125 years," Volney Ford, chair of the city's Susquehanna River Rail Bridge Advisory Board, added.
If that sounds like game over, well, I’d say that’s not too far from the truth… by allowing state and federal agencies to take the lead – as many recommended for shoreline Connecticut as well – the town of Havre de Grace appears to have lost out even on any serious consideration of mitigation. The basic construction, the route, and impacts are settled. It’s no longer a matter of “if,” but “when.” Section 4(f) and 6(f) are settled. As are silting and sturgeon, and other even less plausible deus ex machina.
And I would strongly encourage you to consider this as a template for what could have been, and what might still be, for towns all along the Northeast Corridor in Connecticut and Rhode Island – Charlestown, New London, Guilford, Branford, Greenwich, Darien, and Old Lyme. If shoreline residents are counting on silt or sturgeon or historic impacts or funding to block projects as large as Kenyon to Old Saybrook or New Rochelle to Greens Farms, or as small as Branford to Guilford, I would give this some thought, and think again.
In the analogous, but slightly further-along case of Havre de Grace, not only did these issues fail to block a new high-speed rail project through the National Register historic district, the FRA determined that these issues didn’t even rise to the level of requiring a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
That's exactly why SECoast and the Connecticut Trust have advocated from day one that we absolutely MUST tackle these issues at Tier 1, and that it is absolutely essential that we settle for nothing short of the complete removal of the Kenyon to Old Saybrook Bypass, in particular, from the coming Record of Decision.
Pay attention to the long game. The FRA obviously isn’t giving up on Connecticut, whether the funding comes in five years or twenty-five years. And as is obvious from the case of Havre de Grace, they don’t even need the funding to lock the planning – and impacts - in place.
With a funding horizon stretching into the 2020s, we still have time to get this plan right for southern New England, without actually delaying needed investment, but this breathing room is no help if it plays out after all of the critical decisions are already complete.
For those that say NEC Future’s bypasses and impacts can never happen, look to Havre de Grace. Luckily, unlike Havre de Grace, we’ve gained the critical support of Blumenthal, Courtney, Esty, DeLauro, Raimondo, Formica, Carney, Algiere, Filippi, and others. The FRA has received over 8000 public comments from coastal New England since December. SECoast, Connecticut Trust, and the National Trust have together mounted a serious defense rooted in common sense, public civics, case law, and the National Historic Preservation and Environmental Policy Acts.
Your donations to support our work are welcome. It’s quick and easy; click here:
I used to live in Havre de Grace. In many ways, it's a lot like Old Lyme. These towns have historical significance and ecosystems that need to be protected.
You guys have to unite, get asap petitions in front of your mayor and governor, rally the press. We in Old Lyme, Niantic, Waterford Ct are also fighting a high speed railroad.
What happened to rail travel? Seems its all about fast fast fast travel, no longer viewing the coastal sights, all about $$$$, lining a few select pockets.
Don't fight it till they buy my house
Good read. Interesting.
Well like everything else the government does they lie to us they don't tell you the whole story and sooner or later they'll sneak it in like they do everything else very sad again so all about money😬
Why do we have this high speed...why can't we just chill?
Sit on it FONSI.
Destroying simply beautiful areas along with nature preserves, rural farmland, historic towns and landmarks.
Upgrade the existing tracks bringing life back to small communities that would benefit from the extra income. Reopen closed stations. Have longer schedules to accommodate travelers who may want to explore a small historical community. There are so many ways the FRA could help the economy instead of piling on more debt to taxpayers and destroy these areas. Shameful
We are expecting an announcement of the NEC Future Record of Decision today at 11 am!
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...
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