Malloy: Rail plan should focus on repairs, not new alignments in Connecticut

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told the Federal Railroad Administration that its plan for recommended rail investments should focus on achieving a "State of Good Repair" for the Northeast Corridor, rather than propose new alignments, including the Old Saybrook to Kenyon, R.I., rail bypass

The FRA had released in December a Final Environmental Impact Statement for proposed future investments in the Washington, D.C., to Boston rail corridor and is expected to next issue a Record of Decision for the plan.

In a March 2 letter to the FRA, Malloy wrote that Connecticut would support the Record of Decision, if the plan receives support from other U.S. Department of Transportation Agencies besides the FRA, focuses on "State-of-Good Repair" investments and removes specific alternative alignments, among other conditions.

"Portions of the corridor which require evaluation of alternative investments and alignments to address capacity, speed, or which have other vulnerabilities should be identified without proposing specific options," he wrote.

Malloy's letter further provides a list of recommendations to the FRA and issues that would affect Connecticut.

In part of the letter, he said that proposed new alignments of track would "have potentially unacceptable physical, historic, environmental and community impacts without significant incremental benefit-cost outcomes, specifically between the Hell Gate Line and Green Farms and between Old Saybrook and Kenyon, R.I."

He asked the FRA to specifically state in the Record of Decision that "future capacity and infrastructure alternatives in those two segments will require the full consent of Connecticut through appropriate Tier 2 alternatives evaluations and recommendations."

"No specific alignments off of the existing Connecticut NEC right of way should appear in the ROD," he continued. "Connecticut elected officials and citizens have been very clear about this throughout the EIS process."

The FRA has said that any proposed projects in the Record of Decision will require additional planning, including environmental reviews, and significant funding, before they could move forward.

The Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation issued a statement thanking Malloy "for a clear and timely statement calling for the elimination of nearly 80 miles of new right of way through numerous coastal communities.”

"We appreciate that the governor has adopted an approach for investing in the Northeast Corridor while respecting the unique historic and environmental qualities of Connecticut," said Daniel Mackay, executive director of the Connecticut Trust.


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