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

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

5 days ago

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Mary McAndrew

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

Press Release - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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1 week ago

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

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

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

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

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Well deserved coverage

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

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

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

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

Forwarding-thinking preservationism...

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

3 weeks ago

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

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

4 weeks ago

Just sent out by the Federal Railroad Administration (the gears are turning...)

Update on the NEC FUTURE Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement

On December 16, 2016, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released the Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for NEC FUTURE, the FRA's comprehensive planning effort for the Northeast Corridor (NEC) rail line from Washington, D.C., to Boston, MA. The Tier 1 Final EIS includes a Preferred Alternative, the FRA's recommended plan for growing passenger rail service on the NEC to accommodate future demand and maintain the economic competitiveness and vitality of the Northeast.

The FRA received over 1,000 letters to date regarding the Tier 1 Final EIS. The purpose of this statement is to address the primary themes of these comments while the FRA prepares the Record of Decision (ROD).

Requests for a Longer Waiting Period

A waiting period prior to the issuance of a ROD as required by the Council on Environmental Quality's regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act, ended on January 31, 2017. Many letters requested that the FRA defer issuing the ROD to allow additional time for the public to provide feedback. The FRA values the public feedback on the Tier 1 Final EIS and Preferred Alternative received thus far. Given the interest in NEC FUTURE, the FRA will continue to consider feedback received, to the extent practicable, up to the issuance of the ROD.

Public Meetings

The FRA held public hearings during the public comment period on the Tier 1 Draft EIS, including in each of the eight states and the District of Columbia that are part of the NEC FUTURE Study Area. The FRA provided information about the Preferred Alternative and the Tier 1 Final EIS by holding public open houses in Springfield, MA, and Baltimore, MD, on January 25 and February 1 respectively, as well as two virtual meetings via webinar on February 13 and 16. The public meeting process has now concluded.

Public Feedback

Public feedback received to date ranges from strong support for long-term growth in passenger rail service across the NEC to concerns about the impacts of proposed infrastructure investments, particularly those associated with new segments. The FRA continues to deliberate on how best to address the passenger rail needs of the region while being responsive to the feedback received.

Record of Decision

Through NEC FUTURE, the FRA is establishing a comprehensive plan that will help prioritize future investment in the NEC, and will support essential commuter and intercity services that benefit hundreds of communities in the region. NEC FUTURE improvements would enable improved and expanded train service along the NEC from Washington, D.C., to Boston.

Through the Tier 1 EIS process, FRA identified the need to reliably maintain and improve existing service to meet growth in ridership, and to address resiliency, performance, and capacity constraints along the NEC. Site-specific decisions about infrastructure improvements along the NEC will only be made after planning studies and Tier 2 environmental reviews that evaluate the specific details and location of individual projects (see FAQs for more information on Tier 2 environmental reviews and next steps). The FRA is committed to working with the states, railroads, and communities across the NEC to plan and advance the rail improvements necessary to grow the northeast region of the United States.

Thank you for your interest in NEC FUTURE.

NEC FUTURE Team
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1 month ago

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Got the same form letter emailed to me an hour ago as well. Whole lot of nothing we didn't already know if you ask me

There's some things to note: 1) After many deadlines and delays, still no timeline for a Record of Decision. Does this mean CT and RI opposition are forcing a change in plans? 2) FRA still soliciting/reviewing feedback; more time for RI and CT to weigh in with continued nuance and details. 3) Indication of over 1000 letters received. Can we presume most are negative, most are from CT and RI? Let's keep them coming. 4) Clear statement that public meeting component is over - guess FRA is never going to hold a meaningful Q+A with coastal community public in New London, Middlesex or Fairfield Counties, or RI. 5) Does - finally?! - acknowledge concerns about new segment impacts. This may be a first for an FRA public communication.

Who do they get to write these??

I am over educated and have little clue what that means. PM u later GS. Thanks for all you do.

This sounds like a lot of words that sound good together with no meaning or answers.

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Despite what you might have heard, don't hold your breath on the release of the Record of Decision... nothing is certain, but based on two good sources, I'd expect several more weeks, at least... ... See MoreSee Less

2 months ago

With the entire corridor from Greenwich to Guilford to Old Lyme to Mystic to New London to Stonington to Charlestown asking questions and up-in-arms, the FRA falls oddly silent... are they simply not commenting to the press, or is no one bothering to ask anymore? ... See MoreSee Less

2 months ago

Comment on Facebook

No response from the FRA regarding Malloy's press release?

I thought the final decision was going to be released this week

Maybe we all need to write directly to the FRA as well as our governor and elected officials. Anyone know who and addresses as well as email addresses?

We are still asking!

What was Malloy's press release?

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