At a meeting Thursday afternoon, Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) provided Charlestown Town Council President Virginia Lee and Westerly Town Council President James Silvestri with a letter he sent today to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), opposing the current proposal for realigning tracks in Washington County, as part of the Northeast Corridor Future “NEC Future” Tier 1 plan.
As currently laid out in the plan, the new rails would cut across nature preserves, family farms, and sacred tribal lands, and their siting has been vehemently opposed by town officials and residents throughout South County.
“I have personally heard from hundreds of constituents who oppose the proposed realignment in Washington County, and I want them to know that I have heard their concerns and I support their community,” said Langevin.
“I am a strong proponent of high-speed rail, but I believe there must be a solution that modernizes intercity passenger rail in Rhode Island without disturbing ecosystems, impinging on property rights, and threatening the natural beauty of Charlestown and surrounding areas.”
In his letter to the FRA, Langevin underscored his support for upgrades to passenger rail infrastructure, and said he is hopeful that an alternative solution can be developed.
The FRA continues to accept comments on the regional plan, and is expected to finalize this framework after March 1, 2017.
The FRA will then continue to study local impacts in more depth (Tier 2). Langevin called on the FRA to include additional public hearings in Rhode Island during these future comment periods.
“I am encouraged that the FRA has demonstrated a willingness to listen to Rhode Islanders during this process, and I am confident that we can move forward to find a mutually-beneficial solution that creates a globally competitive, resilient passenger rail service in the region,” Langevin said.