Fed Plan for High Speed Branford-Guilford Rail Tracks Draws Opposition

Wikipedia PhotoA plan by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to doubletrack railways between Branford and Guilford, part of future project to run Acela high-speed trains along the Northeast Corridor shoreline from Washington, D.C., to Boston, is producing stiff opposition in these close-knit communities. 

In recent months Old Lyme residents have mounted resistance to the FRA plan to build an all-new bypass line that would be created a mile or so inland from the shoreline, a bypass from Old Saybrook to Rhode Island. This new route would run through the town of Old Lyme. The FRA’s idea is to re-route the trains of the future away from the curving track along the shoreline east of Old Saybrook. Click here to read a story in the CT Mirror.

With PermissionNow other communities are mounting different forms of opposition, especially since there are as yet no environmental impact statements or environmental studies relating to the impact of double tracking along the coastal shoreline that includes Guilford and Branford.

In a letter to Patrick T. Warren, acting administrator of the FRA, State Rep. Lonnie Reed, who represents Branford, formally announced her opposition to the FRA idea. 

She said “a growing numbers of residents along the Branford, Guilford rail fear that doubletracking the corridor to accommodate increased traffic is ill-advised for reasons that also include damage to sensitive environmental areas and the destruction of many homes, including historic properties.”

She urged the FRA to engage with residents along the Branford, Guilford corridor “and to consider their concerns.”

State Sen. Ted Kennedy, Jr. and State Rep. Sean Scanlon, who represent Branford and Guilford, agreed.

Kennedy and Scanlon asked Warren to send someone to meet with community members and stakeholders “before any further steps are taken to advance this proposal.” 

They noted that the future Northeast rail plan is “nothing more than a series of suggestions state and communities can consider in the future, we believe it is important for our constituents to hear from you and for you to hear from them before any more plans are further developed.”

Guilford First Selectman Joe Mazza wrote in an April 19 letter to Warren that he supports smart, sensible rail transportation within our area “that does not negatively impact or disturb the ecology or historic character of the towns along the CT. shoreline. The proposal to add a second set of tracks between Branford and Guilford has not taken either of those factors into consideration.  It is invasive to our ecological system and would destroy the character of Branford, Guilford and towns east of Guilford. Also doubletracking could lead to the destruction of communities, could possibly endanger historic areas, and impose economic hardship to our residents and commercial establishments.”

Mazza sent a copy of his letter to Guilford’s Board of Selectmen, Jamie Cosgrove, the first selectman of Branford; Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and Scanlon and Kennedy.

Jon Wilson, a Stony Creek resident, has publicized the proposed rail track expansion. He says a number of organizations oppose the NEC Future’s quad-tracking plan from Branford to Guilford, including the Branford Historical Society, Branford Land Trust, Stony Creek Association, Guilford Land Conservation Trust, Guilford Preservation Alliance, and Hyland House.


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posted by: Jon Wilson on April 21, 2017  2:48pm

It is ironic that the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) has no environmental impact studies relating the new quad track between Branford and Guilford.

Are we just supposed to give the railroad a 150 to 300foot wide eight mile long easement through wetlands, historic sites, homes, and communities without even being given a hearing?