Plans to upgrade rail system could cut through Old Lyme's histor - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Plans to upgrade rail system could cut through Old Lyme's historic district

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The meeting in Old Lyme was at capacity with more than 500 people attending on Wednesday night. (WFSB) The meeting in Old Lyme was at capacity with more than 500 people attending on Wednesday night. (WFSB)

Old Lyme residents were trying to de-rail plans to improve rail service from Washington to Boston during a hearing on Wednesday night. 

One option by the Federal Railroad Administration is to cut through Old Lyme's historic district. Wednesday night was the first public hearing of the bypass proposal with federal rail reps presenting their plan. 

Shortly after presenting their long range future proposal, residents wasted little time de-railing the Federal Railroad Administration's. NEC plan to straighten the rail-road between Old Saybrook to Kenyon, Rhode Island.

"No discussion. Obviously not much consideration of people impact," William Fitzgerald, who lives in path of rail plan, said. 

The project is estimated to cost tens of billions of dollars and cut right through the historic heart of Old Lyme and the art college.

"To destroy the art area of town would be terrible," Old Lyme resident Ann Lander said. 

Lander was one of the 540 people that attended the first hearing on Wednesday night. 

The rail plan would be on the books for the next 25 years. The non-profit organization that's fighting the bypass said the project impacts more than just Old Lyme.

"We're looking at how this will impact New Haven, how it impacts Wallingford. What happens in New Haven effects what is happening in New London," Greg Stroud, who is the executive director at SeCoast, said. 

Their bypass plan as it stands now starts in Old Saybrook and either channels over to Old Lyme, or builds a bridge just south of the Baldwin Bridge. 

Rail officials said the improvements would save 30 minutes in travel between Washington to Boston. 

Local officials said the cost isn't worth the huge environmental and social geo-graphic impact.

Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna would rather see the existing line improved.

"They need to make the rail safer and more reliable on the track that they have," Fortuna said. 

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said he vowed to tie himself to the tracks to stop the plan from moving forward.

"We need to send the FRA back to the drawing board and think about a tunnel or track to nowhere," Blumenthal said. 

The rail administrators in Washington will reveal their decision in October.

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