National Trust for Historic Preservation joins opposition to rail bypass

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has written a letter urging the Federal Railroad Administration to remove proposed rail bypasses in Connecticut and Rhode Island from its plan for recommended upgrades to the Northeast Corridor between Washington, D.C., and Boston.

"While some areas of the proposed project would have a minimal adverse effect on historic resources, the portion of the project along the coast of Connecticut and Rhode Island would be devastating to historic communities under the preferred alternative, which proposes 79 miles of rail corridor on new alignment just within Connecticut – 29 miles in the New Rochelle to Greens Farms Bypass, and 50 miles in the Old Saybrook to Kenyon Bypass, much of which would be elevated on aerial structures," Deputy General Counsel Elizabeth S. Merritt wrote in the March 1 letter. "Historic communities such as Old Lyme in Connecticut, and Charlestown in Rhode Island, would be especially hard hit. In these historic communities, the opposition to the preferred alternative — by local governments, by elected officials at all levels, and by the public at large — has been quite extraordinary."

The National Trust endorsed the comments the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation already submitted and said the FRA should "conduct more detailed reviews to develop feasible and prudent alternatives that would avoid and minimize harm to" historic resources.

The FRA released in December a Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement for its recommendations and the FRA's next step is to issue a Record of Decision. All proposed projects would require additional planning and significant funding before construction could begin, the FRA has said.

k.drelich@theday.com

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