[CT Birds] Rail Hearing, next Monday in New Haven (long but important) Potential implications for Bent, Natchaug and Bafflin
PCOMINS at audubon.org
Tue Dec 8 08:56:25 EST 2015
On Monday, December 14th there will be an important meeting regarding a draft EIS for then Northeast Corridor Future Plan (rail). This will be at Gateway Community College in New Haven from 4-7 PM. I believe there may be two opportunities to view the presentation. This is a massive undertaking, and while we can appreciate the potential reduction in carbon emissions by promoting mass transit, at the same time the scope of these infrastructure proposals, and the uncertainties associated with the planning, present some significant potential concerns about negative impacts on wildlife, and habitats such as Audubon Important Bird Areas, wetlands, grasslands and forest interior habitats.
Further, the devil is generally in the details with these massive projects and the details are very difficult to assess from the maps that are provided. This is a huge plan with major implications for Connecticut. One option sends a rail line from Long Island to Milford, going between Charles Island and Silver Sands and under Gulf Pond, after which it will hook into the existing corridor. Depending on methodology of the tunnel, this goes through, or under some pretty productive bottom lands of Long Island Sound. In SE Ct the options also have some habitat ramifications, as there is an inland route along the shore, which appears to go through or very close to Haley Farm State Park.
The inland route option is quite tricky. It is proposed to be a giant tunnel from Danbury to the Housatonic River, where it will come out in Paugussett State Forest and cross Lake Lillinonah and go back into the ground in George C. Waldo State Park. It is then planned to be a tunnel through to Waterbury, however, as far as I can tell, the Bent is at a lower elevation than (perhaps by 100'), so they may need to come to the surface through the North Meadow and across the Pomperaug.
The route then continues to Waterbury via a tunnel and comes to the surface there, cuts through the Prospect Ridge and towards the junction of I691 and 84, where it makes a turn through Southington and up to a tunnel through Ragged mountain between Shuttle Meadow Reservoir and Wassel Reservoir and then heads through New Britain to Hartford. The cross sound option also has a tunnel through the traprock ridge there.
>From Hartford there are two route options. One of which heads to just south of UCONN through Manchester, with a tunnel through Bolton Notch and then continuing at the surface through Nathan Hale State Forest then hooking northeast to go just south of UCONN and then through the north end of Manfield Hollow, through a large swath of Natchaug State Forest (about 5 miles, bisecting it at about the northern 1/3) then through Pomfret into Rhode Island. It appears to cross or go very close to the north end of the CAS Bafflin Sanctuary.
The other option from Hartford goes northeast, essentially following I-84 to the Mass line.
The DEIS needs to do a better job of outlining resources such as private, NGO and municipal open space, habitat for state-listed species and species of global concern as noted by the IUCN Red List and features such as interior forest as identified by the Center for Landuse Education and Research. Additionally, since there is a mix of at-grade and tunnel proposals included in the options, it would be good to have more details on things like the depth and methodology for drilling to better assess impacts to sensitive surface resources.
The complete draft EIS can be found here:
NEC FUTURE: A Rail Investment Plan for the Northeast ...
Tier 1 EIS Tier 1 Draft EIS. The Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Tier 1 Draft EIS) for NEC FUTURE assesses the broad impacts of an investment program to ...
There will also be a meeting in Hartford at the Lyceum on January 13th. Details are pretty sparse on the meetings, but an article should be coming out next Monday that will give the details. I wanted to give folks a heads up though in advance to let you know about next Monday's meeting. Comments on the Draft EIS will be accepted until January 30th.
Patrick M. Comins
Director of Bird Conservation
185 East Flat Hill Road
Southbury, CT 06488
Phone: (203)264-5098 x308
pcomins at audubon.org
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