After residents, local leaders, and politicians expressed growing concern over the proposed federal high-speed rail expansion through Guilford and Branford, it now seems there is little cause for concern.
On July 12, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released its Northeast Corridor (NEC) FUTURE Record of Decision (ROD) – a comprehensive planning document to improve rail performance through the Northeast Corridor through 2040. The proposed quad-track is not on the list of recommendations. The FRA was exploring adding the quad-track express rail as part of a high-speed Northeast Corridor between Washington D.C. and Boston.
Previously in the “preferred alternative” stage of proposal, this area’s segment of the quad-track plan would have moved into the final, “record of decision” phase at any time, meaning work on the segment could have gone forward when funding was secured.
Residents from both Branford and Guilford had spoken out against the proposed track at a meeting on June 7, with many residents expressing concerns over the potential effects the new track might have on the historic and environmentally sensitive lands in the area.
Local leaders, including Guilford First Selectman Joe Mazza had called the plan dangerous to the area’s ecological system and one that would “destroy the character of Branford, Guilford, and towns east of Guilford” in an April letter to the FRA. Now, Mazza said he is pleased with this decision and gives most of the credit to local citizens who spoke out against the project and put pressure on the FRA.
"I am delighted to hear that the FRA has decided to scrap the plans of putting the quad-track in," he said. "I think the efforts of the citizens in Branford and Guilford and the efforts of all our elected officials paid off and they heard us."
State Representative Sean Scanlon (D-98), who sits on the legislature’s Transportation Committee, released a statement after the FRA’s decision was announced.
“I’m glad the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) heard the legitimate concerns of hundreds of my constituents and chose not to recommend the so-called 'quad track bypass' between Guilford and Branford in their Record of Decision. Instead of recommending a proposal with little to no public input, they have taken a more appropriate step of recommending that the Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT) conduct a capacity planning study for the future of the rail line between New Haven and Providence. For months, I joined with other elected officials from the local, state and federal level in calling on the FRA to come here and listen to us and while I’m disappointed they never did, I’m glad they made the right decision and I can assure Guilford and Branford residents that if and when DOT decides to conduct this study, they will have a seat at the table and a voice in this process.”
This is a developing story.