Lee & Carroccia: Charlestown is being “Railroaded”
The following letter appeared in Providence Journal and is shared with us here by the authors Virginia Lee and Julie Carroccia. Virginia Lee is President and Julie Carroccia is Vice President of the Charlestown Town Council.
We write in response to a Providence Journal Editorial entitled “Expand R.I.’s 21st Century Rail Options” dated January 10, 2017.
Residents of the Town of Charlestown and the Charlestown Town Council fiercely object to the Old Saybrook to Kenyon Bypass for high-speed rail through the Town of Charlestown. New high-speed trains can run from Boston or New York to Providence using the current right of way.
Straightening the track in Charlestown, as near as we can determine, will save only one minute of travel time between Boston and New York. One minute. The price for this is enormous and unsupportable. Just in the Town of Charlestown alone it will cost over a billion dollars of taxpayer’s money, cause the destruction of numerous homes, family farms, historic districts, drinking water aquifers, a wild and scenic river, critical habitats, conservation areas preserved in perpetuity and invade Narragansett Tribal Lands.
More specifically, the Bypass would destroy the bucolic Burdickville village, demolish the historic districts of Columbia Heights and Kenyon, ruin the productive fourth-generation Stoney Hill Farm, divide The Nature Conservancy’s treasured 1100-acre Carter Preserve, demolish the preserved Revolutionary-era Amos Green Farm, and invade other protected conservation lands, all to enable long-distance passengers to traverse our town a minute faster than current rail transport allows. The inestimable and irreversible environmental costs to our town for that minute saved (to do what?) are staggering.
Moreover, what is now a conceptual line on the map brings the threat of eminent domain with real loss in property value, loss of resale and unwillingness of banks to mortgage for at least the next 30 years. Real estate values in Connecticut along the Bypass route there have already taken a 25% hit. To have this sword hanging over Charlestown’s head from now into the distant future is unacceptable.
The environmental impacts are too extensive to enumerate in this letter but critical for consideration at the first tier of an environmental impact statement. These impacts have not been yet been assessed by the state or by the Federal Railroad Administration.
All of the Connecticut Congressional Delegation, including the Connecticut Governor, oppose the Bypass. All of the Connecticut towns impacted by the Bypass oppose the Bypass.
We urge Governor Raimondo to drop the part of the Old Saybrook to Kenyon Bypass that runs through the Town of Charlestown from the Tier 1 Final EIS before January 30, 2017.
Virginia Lee, Charlestown Town Council President
Julie Carroccia, Charlestown Town Council Vice President
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