March 25, 2019

Press Pushes for Answers to FRA’s Apparent Decision Made Months Ago on ‘Preferred Alternative’ High Speed Rail Route

Since SECoast sent out their press release yesterday (published on at this link,) which claimed the Federal Rail Authority (FRA) had already made a decision months ago regarding the high speed rail route through Connecticut, three major news sources have published articles reporting and expanding on the story, and also seeking a response from the FRA.

According to the articles, the FRA continues to maintain that no decision has yet been taken.

All three articles were published yesterday, Wednesday, Sept. 7.

The Connecticut Mirror’s article by Ana Radelat is titled, “Feds’ undisclosed ‘preferred route’ for rail lines sparks outrage“.

The Day’s article by Kimberly Drelich is titled, “Organizations say maps show FRA’s preferred routes“.

Politico’s article by Brianna Gurciullo and Lauren Gardner is titled, “Blumenthal questions FRA transparency“.

The map said to be showing the FRA’s ‘Preferred Alternative’, which was previously posted on the web site of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, has now been removed.  The map is shown below.




  1. Thank you for your coverage of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) meeting and its aftermath.

    Unfortunately, the FRA representatives were apparently less than candid in their presentation. They appear willing to spend $139B of taxpayer’s money for rail improvements that are marginal at best. The plan to locate a new rail line through the center of Old Lyme ignores the predictions for increased coastal flooding by both NOOA and the Nature Conservancy. The new relocated line, although a mile and a half north of the existing line, remains within the area predicted to be adversely affected by storm surge and flooding within the next 80 years. The presence of a new elevated structure adjacent to I-95 will further complicate efforts to mitigate flood damage.

    In talking around tunnels and elevated structures the FRA representatives reversed and contradicted themselves several times. The engineering challenges for crossing the Lieutenant River and the associated tidal wetlands by anything other than a bridge are significant. The concept of a tunnel will be rejected out of hand because of costs. The elevation of high speed rail track is usually less than 2% or at the most 110 feet per mile. This means that any tunnel through Old Lyme would also require a tunnel under the Connecticut River with a tunnel entrance between Westbrook and Old Saybrook. That just isn’t going to happen.

    Also, a new railroad right of way will more than likely be a four track design to allow for maintenance. Therefore the width of the right of way increases from about 55 feet to 95 feet wide.

    We are living with the poorly designed tracks of New Haven and New London Railroad from 1850 with its roadbed hugging the coast and traversing tidal wetlands. Improvements are needed. However, the current proposal is a foolish waste of money which will be soon obsolete because of climate change.

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