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FRA withdraws shoreline rail plans

OLD LYME --  A victory for shoreline communities whose objections have led to the derailment of a high speed rail plan.

In response to Wednesday's decision by the Federal Railroad Administration to drop its plan for a $120 billion high speed rail by pass through shoreline communities, Sen. Richard Blumenthal likened the small community of Old Lyme, which stood to be heavily impacted, to the little engine that could.

The FRA had planned to run its new tracks right through Old Lyme's historic district.

"The little town of Old Lyme, and everybody who sided with it, brought a unified voice that turned the tide," said Blumenthal

Old Lyme's residents and political leaders fought this proposed plan for a year and a half. Ultimately, the government decided to leave rail decisions to the locals.

"Now it's up to the state of Connecticut and local officials to determine where high-speed rail will go from New Haven to Providence Rhode Island," said Bonnie Reemsnyder, the First Selectwoman of Old Lyme.

Residents, of course, rejoiced.

"I'm really grateful that it's officially not going to happen," said David Handler, a 30-year resident of Old Lyme.

"It's bad enough when we have the highway tied up and the town gets discombobulated for hours on Sunday afternoons," said Linda Claps, a life long Old Lyme resident

Part of the plan was to construct a tunnel beneath the Connecticut River, which brought environmental concerns.

"The fish, the swallows that come in September, the Eagles that are now gracing our shores," said Reemsnyder.

The high speed rail bypass would also have impacted other shoreline communities east of Old Lyme, including New London.

"The new Coast Guard Museum, which is being built adjacent to the existing railroad station, that would've been completely eviscerated by this plan," said Rep. Joe Courtney

Gov. Dannel Malloy said there remains at least a $38 billion backlog upgrades necessary to the present rail infrastructure here in Connecticut.