Blumenthal: FRA Plan to Route Rail Through Old Lyme is "Dead on Arrival" but Investments in New Haven-Harford-Springfield Line and Existing Track Upgrades are Welcome

[HARTFORD, CT] – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) released the following statement today in response to a proposal issued by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to route rail straight through Old Lyme as part of a massive, multi-million dollar undertaking to develop a vision that will meet the passenger rail needs of the Northeast in 2040. The proposed rail line realignment outlined by the FRA would shift the main rail line northward ahead of the Old Saybrook Station and run through several Connecticut and Rhode Island shoreline communities before reconnecting to the existing segment in Kenyon, Rhode Island.

“I am going to fight with every ounce of energy and power to stop this half-baked, hare-brained proposal. Make no mistake: it can and must be stopped. A rail line that avoids urban downtown areas and proceeds through historic and environmentally sensitive areas is a non-starter—dead on arrival. FRA resources should be devoted to making rail improvements in the region, not a destructive plan facing strong, well-merited opposition,” Blumenthal said.  “Instead of spending enormous capital and threatening environmental and historic areas, the FRA should upgrade existing lines and focus on further enhancements to the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield line.”

In July, Blumenthal joined U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and U.S. Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT) in sending a letter to the FRA reiterating their strong opposition to any proposal that would route a new rail line through Old Lyme and calling on the Administration to attend a public forum there so that community leaders can explain how to meet our region’s rail needs while honoring historic preservation and environmental protection priorities. In August, Blumenthal convened a meeting with community leaders and representatives from the FRA to discuss local opposition to the proposed rail line.

At a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation subcommittee hearing earlier in the summer, Blumenthal pressed Amtrak Vice President Stephen Gardner to ditch any plans to build a new route through Southeastern Connecticut that would be strongly opposed by residents of the region.