MYSTIC, Conn. & WESTERLY, RI (WTNH/AP) — A Rhode Island town government opposed to federal plans for a new Amtrak route is paying for a bus that will carry protesters to the State House.
The Wednesday afternoon rally was scheduled to oppose a high-speed rail bypass route that could be built from Old Lyme, Connecticut, into southwest Rhode Island.
Westerly Town Manager Derrik Kennedy said Wednesday morning only 19 bypass opponents have reserved a bus seat for the 45-mile ride to Providence.
Federal railroad regulators last month unveiled a plan to upgrade Amtrak’s Washington-to-Boston Northeast Corridor over the coming decades. One recommendation would speed up southern New England travel by creating a straighter route for high-speed trains.
The bypass which could be an alternative route for Amtrak’s Acela train is expected to cost between 10 and 15 billion dollars to build but could save 20 minutes on the commute from Boston to New York.
“I think moving forward into the future I think it’s a good idea,” said Alecia Chaney who works at Fun & Easy in Olde Mistick Village. “I think it will be good for a lot of people. I mean personally it’s not going to affect me any.”
But many others who have packed meetings from Old Lyme to Stonington say it will affect them and their towns.
The route proposed by the Federal Railroad Administration would largely follow I-95 in southeastern Connecticut and would bring the high speed trains away from the water and right behind Olde Mistick Village and Mystic Aquarium.
“You’re talking about having a train running through. That’s gonna affect everything,” said Mae Trask, manager of Fun & Easy. “It’s going to affect the economy. It’s going to affect us.”
The women who work at the Old Mistick Village store may not completely see eye to eye on the bypass but they agree it could change the atmosphere around there.
“Aesthetically I think that that could affect things a little bit but it could be good,” said Chaney.
“Who’s gonna want to sit outside and watch a train go by?” asks Trask.
Not Diane Bowman of Hamden who says she enjoys the quaintness and quietness of Mystic.
“That’s part of the reason I come here is because it’s like a mini vacation and you don’t want to see that kind of progress around,” said Bowman.
The Federal Railroad Administration also scheduled a meeting about the recommendations on Wednesday in Springfield, Massachusetts.