July 19, 2018

The Latest on the Train: FRA Hosts Open House in Springfield, Mass., Today

  • Two Important Upcoming Events BOTH on Wednesday, Jan. 25:
    Federal Railroad Administration ‘Open House’ in Springfield, Mass., 4-7pm

    ‘Community Connections’ Luncheon Discusses ‘High Speed Rail in Old Lyme,’ 12-2pm

On a recent snowy day and under an early morning sun, an Amtrak train travels along the Connecticut shoreline through Rocky Neck State Park.

AREAWIDE — We published an editorial on Jan. 6 regarding the high speed train issue in which we asked, “But what has happened here in our own backyard in terms of specific actions to express concern to the FRA regarding the Preferred Route?”  Well, it’s now Jan. 17 and just 11 days later, the answer is clear — a great deal!

First and most importantly, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has announced it will be holding one last public meeting in New England before the Record of Decision.  Billed as the Springfield, Mass., Open House, it will be held Wednesday, Jan. 25, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, 60 Congress St., Springfield, MA.

This, as its name suggests, is an opportunity for the public to ask questions freely — as in any normal public forum — but significantly Old Lyme and, in fact, the whole of Southeast Connecticut have not previously been given that opportunity.

Take your mind back to Aug. 31 when the FRA finally held a “public” meeting in Old Lyme — yes, it was public in that over 500 people attended but was any member of the public allowed to ask a single question?  No.  It is therefore significant that this opportunity is being presented — but in Springfield, Mass.?  The intention is clear — people from this area of Connecticut are not expected to attend.

SECoast.org and the CT Trust are encouraging as many folk as possible to make the trek up to Springfield on the 25th so we can meet the FRA face-to-face, ask our questions, and expect answers.  We heartily support that call and urge as many readers as possible to attend.  We hear there is a possibility a bus may be chartered to go to Springfield — we’ll keep you posted on that.

Jan. 25th is going to be a busy day!

Community Connections, the grass-roots group that provides local organizations a network to explore collaboration opportunities for enhancement of our Lyme-Old Lyme community, is hosting a luncheon at the Old Lyme Country Club at which the topic under discussion will be ‘High Speed Rail in Old Lyme.’  The invitation explains the topic further as , “How the Federal Railroad Administration’s controversial new plan could impact your organization and what you can do to advocate and prepare.” LymeLine.com is a member of Community Connections.

Gregory Stroud, Executive Director of SECoast.org will be the speaker. Stroud will provide background information on the FRA’s rail project, an update on the activities of SECoast, and take questions.  This should be an informative pre-cursor to the Springfield event.  All are welcome at the luncheon — there is no requirement to be a representative of a non-profit group — RSVP to attend ($25 per person) here.

As we’ve stated previously, writing to the FRA is still vitally important — see our previous article on suggested text. The Old Lyme Town Hall also has suggested text at this link and the offer of a pre-addressed postcard if you stop by the Town Hall.

File photo from GoDaddy.com

In other news, Senator Blumenthal raised the bypass as an issue in confirmation hearings for Transportation Secretary nominee Elaine Chao. With thanks to SECoast.org, view video of the confirmation hearing here.

There has been quite a number of recent newspaper articles regarding the high speed train proposal and opposition to it, not only in Southeast Connecticut but also in Rhode Island. Here’s a listing of some of them, including one published as a lead story just yesterday in The Wall Street Journal, which at press time had already drawn 462 comments:

Region officials bring rail bypass concerns to Washington by Kimberly Drelich published Jan. 12 in the New London Day.

In this article, Drelich reported on a trip made Jan. 11 by local officials to Washington DC, saying, “Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder and Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments Executive Director Samuel Gold visited the offices of U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, and U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., to ask for support in gaining an audience with the incoming transportation secretary or administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration.”  It was encouraging to read this news.

Drelich also noted, “Sens. Blumenthal and Murphy and U.S. Reps. John Larson, D-1st District, Courtney, Himes and Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, wrote a letter to the FRA dated Jan. 12 that requests a four-week extension.” Again, very positive news.

Hundreds turn out in opposition of proposed Charlestown railroad bypass by Catherine Hewitt published Jan. 11 in The Westerly Sun.

Outcry over Northeast Corridor line: ‘We’ve been railroaded’ by Donita Naylor published Jan. 11 in the Providence Journal.

Town residents oppose plan to realign Northeast train tracks by Associated Press published Jan. 11 in (the UK!) Daily Mail.

Rail overhaul plan is both a winner and a loser in CT by Ana Radelat published Jan. 9 in The CT Mirror.

Watch an interview titled, ‘Stop the ByPass,’ by the Green Party’s Tim Hanser with Greg Stroud of SECoast and the CT Trust at this link.

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