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Connecticut residents let off steam over rail route through shoreline towns

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SPRINGFIELD, MAOld Lyme residents are so concerned about a proposal to install new tracks to accommodate high speed trains, they traveled out of state to have their voices heard.

The Federal Railroad Administration held a public meeting, Wednesday, in Springfield, Mass. for the public to ask questions about the plan to reroute high-speed Amtrak trains.

It includes a nearly 500-mile-long corridor from Washington to Boston with the goal to improve the capacity, speed and resiliency along the Northeast Rail corridor.

The proposal would sends trains on a rail straight through several Connecticut and Rhode Island shoreline communities, including Old Lyme.

It’s just a plan that can't happen, it can't happen in Old Lyme,” First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsyner said. “All of the first selectmen from the town of Old Saybrook right through Stonington has signed a letter saying this is a problem.”

Resident Michele Dickey said she was disappointed to learn the plan has been in the works since 2012 and the town just caught wind of it last year.

“It’s just very scary to me that our Main Street, our new college of fine arts, our historic buildings that are hundreds of years old that we maintain with the historic district can be a risk,” Dickey said. “And for what? To get people to Boston an hour earlier?”

In August, hundreds packed an Old Lyme auditorium protesting the proposed plan. Dickey is hoping the town will be re-visited again before any decisions are made.

“We've spent a lot of time talking to those from the town of Old Lyme, hearing their concerns, we've heard them loud and clear trying to give them some reassurance that our commitment is to find a solution that works, our commitment is to be responsive to their concerns and its important they let their concerns be known so it can be part of our official record,” Northeast Corridor Joint Program Advisor Rebecca Reyes-Alicea said.

Reyes-Alicea said there will be virtual town meetings in February to continue the discussion. Feedback will help make any necessary changes to the proposal.

A decision is expected by the FRA later this year.