NEC (Railroad) Proposal
NEC Future FRA Proposal
Dear Friends & Neighbors,
I want to make you aware of an important Transportation Committee public hearing THIS Monday, February 6, 2017 at 12:30PM in Room 2E of the Legislative Office Building – 300 Capitol Ave, Hartford.
The Committee will hold a public hearing on a variety of bills including three that Senator Paul Formica and I drafted related to the FRA proposed bypass through southeastern Connecticut. The hearing will offer you the opportunity to testify on these bills:
HJ 54 RESOLUTION CONCERNING THE FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION'S PROPOSAL TO CONSTRUCT AN ALTERNATIVE AMTRAK ROUTE THROUGH SOUTHEAST CONNECTICUT
This is a House Joint Resolution (meaning both the House and the Senate will vote on it) to object to the proposal by the Federal Railroad Administration regarding construction of a bypass on the Northeast Corridor rail line between Old Saybrook, Connecticut to Kenyon, Rhode Island through the scenic and historic towns of southeast Connecticut.
As many of you know, the governor, our Senators, and many other local and federal officials have come out in objection to the bypass – I’d like to have the entire General Assembly oppose it and this is how we can accomplish that. I’d urge you to send in testimony supporting this resolution to move forward.
SB 253 AN ACT REQUIRING MUNICIPAL APPROVAL OF CHANGES TO RAIL SERVICE
Many of our constituents felt that their concerns were not properly considered and that the FRA was trying to ram this bypass proposal through without a proper public hearing from those most affected by it. We agree. So, we drafted this proposal which would require municipal approval, through referendum, for any changes to commuter rail service through an impacted community.
SB 263 AN ACT CONCERNING MUNICIPAL APPROVAL OF CHANGES TO RAIL SERVICE
This bill pairs with SB 253 in that it prohibits the state from expending funds on rail projects that did not receive municipal approval through a referendum.
I would encourage you to support these concepts and express your thoughts on how you feel the FRA process has gone thus far and any concerns you may have.
You can testify in person or in writing — I have provided the instructions below.
HOW TO TESTIFY:
Please email written testimony (can be as formal or informal as you want) in Word or PDF format to TRAtestimony@cga.ct.gov. Testimony should clearly state testifier name and related Bills. The Committee requests testimony be limited to matters related to the items on the Agenda.
The first hour of the hearing is reserved for Legislators, Constitutional Officers, State Agency Heads and Chief Elected Municipal Officials. Please keep in mind, public hearings can be very long, so, if you plan on coming to Hartford to testify, keep your schedule clear.
Speakers will be limited to three minutes of testimony.
Sign-ups for public hearings tend to begin a few hours before the hearing starts and are done through random lottery. Unofficial sign-up sheets have no standing with the Committee.
All public hearing testimony, written and spoken, is public information. As such, it will be made available on the CGA website and indexed by internet search engines.
Let me know if you have any questions about the bills or the public hearing process.
As always, please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns about state government.
Thank you for your time.
FRA Releases NEC FUTURE Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement (Tier 1 Final EIS) for NEC FUTURE, is now available for download at www.necfuture.com.
NEC FUTURE is the FRA's vision for improvements to the Northeast Corridor (NEC) rail line from Washington, D.C., to Boston, Massachusetts.
The Tier 1 Final EIS recommends a Preferred Alternative for NEC FUTURE, and includes responses to comments received on the Tier 1 Draft EIS.
The NEC FUTURE Tier 1 Final EIS includes the Programmatic Agreement (under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act) and associated supporting documents.
Information about the FRA's decision-making process, waiting period, and how to provide feedback is also available on the NEC FUTURE website.
For questions or assistance in accessing the NEC FUTURE Tier 1 Final EIS documentation, contact the FRA via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comments from First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder about FRA EIS Statement Released Today
After months of waiting, petitioning the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) on behalf of Old Lyme, and working with our Congressional representatives, local legislators and state leaders, the FRA has finally released its Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)--months later than promised and only one month before a new administration is sworn in.
We have made strenuous efforts to convince the FRA that selecting Alternative 1 in the draft Environmental Impact Statement, which incorporates a “bypass” from Old Saybrook, Connecticut to Kenyon, Rhode Island, would be a colossal mistake. Not only is there substantial thinking that this southern route would not best serve the economic interests of our nation, state and the Northeast Corridor, there is enormous doubt that this bypass can be constructed in a cost-effective manner that avoids catastrophic damage to our environment and cultural heritage.
In summary, the current proposal is deficient in several ways vis-a-vis the environment
- The report fails to demonstrate that the environmental impact of the preferred alternative is sound when compared to other possible alternatives.
- The FRA failed to examine the possibility of creating new alternatives based on the concerns for the environment as raised in comments on its Tier 1 alternatives.
- The FRA proposal fails to persuade that the benefits of the route in question are economically practical and that the future cost of construction of this alternative outweigh the environmental risks, especially in light of the fact that its chief client, AMTRAK, prefers another route.
- The proposal fails to address the effect on the circulation flow and sediment transport vital to the health of the Connecticut River estuary.
- The proposal fails to identify the impact of such a massive infrastructure project (both during the construction phase and upon completion) on the biodiversity of the estuary and its wetlands and the species that breed, spawn, fledge, inhabit and migrate to these wetlands.
- The proposal fails to identify the impact this project will have on the estuary and its wetlands as climate continues to warm and tides rise and whether the construction of such a tunnel or aerial bridge will hasten the adverse effects of carbon emissions, tidal and temperature increases.
- The report is silent on how the FRA proposes to acquire the property necessary for this expansion and the effect on the farmlands, fields, forests, open spaces and private property involved as well as whether this project will contribute to the existing problems of habitat loss and forest fragmentation.
- The report is silent on how the construction phase of this proposed project will impact other transportation in the affected communities, particularly, traffic on Interstate 95 and CT Rte.9, as well as local roads.
In addition, while these comments primarily address the effects on the Connecticut River Estuary, there are a number of other environmental issues and questions that remained unanswered including:
- The effects of this project on air quality and water resources (including tributaries in the watershed);
- The effect on ground water resources and water quality, especially since the historic village of Old Lyme relies on wells;
- There is little analysis of noise;
- The visual effect of a tunnel/bridge forever changing the landscape of the area and adversely affecting its economy which is reliant on tourism; and
- The effect of a tunnel/bridge on the area’s geology and areas of archeological significance.
Although we acknowledge that this route may never be implemented, the uncertainty that attaches to this recommendation has caused, and will continue to cause, substantial economic and social distress along its route. In the absence of solid scientific evidence that such a route is even feasible, it is unconscionable and purposeless to impose this harm on our state. We therefore have exhorted the FRA to leave the determination of the new alignments unspecified in the EIS, pending future review by all interested parties. Despite all our efforts, including a recent letter to the FRA Administrator, Sarah Feinberg, pointing out the economic damage that has already been felt in our community, the costly bypass from Old Saybrook to Kenyon is included in the recommendation.
It is deeply disturbing that the FRA appears to have completely disregarded the harm this plan is causing, and rejected the viable suggestion to leave all “lines on the map” blank, allowing the State of Connecticut and local leaders to determine how new alignments should be mapped through our state. Hundreds of individuals, experts, and stakeholders have tried to communicate their concerns with this bypass, but they apparently fell on deaf ears, as did the unwavering efforts of Congressman Courtney, Senator Blumenthal, and other state and local leaders.
But let me be clear – this new route will NOT go through Old Lyme. I am pleased to have the support of Governor Malloy, Commissioner Redeker, and others in saying that the STATE OF CONNECTICUT and local governments, not the FRA or the Federal Government, will ultimately determine the route high speed rail takes through Connecticut. We will stand united against this proposal and be prepared to fight the Goliath.