The Federal Railroad Administration has issued a new plan for a controversial changes to the Northeast Corridor, but its fresh solution has no fans here in Connecticut. The original proposal, for an elevated bypass carrying high speed rail through Old Lyme, caused a storm of protest, as town residents said it would create an eyesore in the picturesque shoreline town.
Now the FRA says it will build a tunnel instead. But state and local officials say there’s a host of environmental and technical issues with the hastily-assembled alternative plan.
Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder said her town is united in opposition. "Our commercial district, our historic district, our organizations such as the Florence Griswold Museum, all are in a very tight area. So this really has the potential of devastating our community," she told a press conference Friday.
Senator Richard Blumenthal described the FRA’s plan as "dead on arrival," because Connecticut will not give permission or funding.
"The bypass, the realignment will never happen," he said. "And I say that to offer some reassurance to the people who live in these towns and who are faced with the apprehension, and sometimes panic, about their homes being bored through, their watersheds and wetlands being eviscerated, their historic landmarks being destroyed."
The upgrades to the Northeast Corridor are aimed at cutting travel times and improving service.
“In order to keep moving forward, we need a new vision for the Northeast Corridor – a corridor that can move an ever-increasing population safer, faster and more reliably than before,” said FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg, in a press release announcing the revised plan. “We need a corridor that provides more options and more trains for commuters."
The public now has 30 days to comment on the plan.