Center at Fairfield

Federal railroad decision is a victory for conservation in southeastern Connecticut

July 12, 2017 

Statement on the decision by the FRA, from Claudia Weicker, chair of the Connecticut Audubon Society’s Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center

The decision by the Federal Railroad Administration to abandon the proposed Connecticut-Rhode Island bypass of its Northeast Corridor project in favor of having state officials study an alternative route is a considerable victory for conservation and environmental protection in southeastern Connecticut.
In comments opposing this proposal, the Connecticut Audubon Society pointed out that the FRA’s Preferred Alternative ignored the impact on four endangered or threatened species: Atlantic sturgeon, shortnose sturgeon, Roseate Terns, and Piping Plover.

Based on that flaw, Connecticut Audubon called for further study of the route through southeastern Connecticut, and for greater involvement by local officials and residents. 

The Hartford Courant, CT Mirror, and New Haven Register included excerpts of our statement in their breaking news stories about the decision.
The decision has taken into account the opposition of residents of the area and the concerns of the Town of Old Lyme, which issued an 82-page report on the proposal that included an environmental assessment prepared by the Connecticut Audubon Society’s Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center.

Old Lyme’s First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder deserves credit for her dogged work and foresight in putting together a strategy team to assess this issue.

The Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement was flawed in that it failed to recognize the impact on historic, cultural and environmental resources that would have been adversely affected by the construction of a tunnel under the ecologically sensitive Connecticut River Estuary and the Town of Old Lyme.

It was our conclusion that the infrastructure project posed a substantial threat to the estuary and would have created displacement and destruction of habitats as well as reduced the estuary’s ability to defend from storm surges.

We are gratified that the FRA took our concerns seriously and has placed the decision as to the best route in the hands of state authorities. We expect that further study will continue to receive local input and input from environmental organizations.

Read Connecticut Audubon’s news release and letter to the FRA, from February 2017, here.

 

 

 

 

 

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