The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) completed the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the proposed replacement of the Connecticut River Bridge. The EA evaluates the potential effects on environmental, cultural, and socioeconomic resources that could occur as a result of the project. The EA is prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, (NEPA), as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 4321 et. seq.; its implementing regulation, 40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1500-1508; and the FRA’s Procedures for Considering Environmental Impacts, 64 FR 28545 (May 26, 1999). The EA is also prepared in accordance with Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966 (DOT Act), as set forth in 49 U.S.C. § 1653(f); and with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA), as revised in 36 CFR Part 800 (August 5, 2004).
The Connecticut River Bridge is located between the Town of Old Saybrook in Middlesex County and the Town of Old Lyme in New London County, Connecticut, along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor (MP 106.89). It spans the Connecticut River approximately 3.4 miles from its mouth at Long Island Sound and is one of several moveable rail bridges along the Northeast Corridor. The existing Connecticut River Bridge is nearing the end of its useful life. In addition, the operational reliability of the aging bridge results in cascading delays to rail and maritime traffic due to its failure to open and close properly. The purpose of the Connecticut River Bridge Replacement Project is to improve the aging bridge, enhance its reliability and long-term serviceability, and ensure continued passenger and freight rail operations along the Northeast Corridor and navigation along the Connecticut River.
Amtrak considered a No Build Alternative and Build Alternatives. Amtrak evaluated 21 build alternatives, including minor repairs, rehabilitation of the existing bridge, partial replacement, and complete replacement. Amtrak evaluated these alternatives and identified a Preferred Alternative. The Preferred Alternative proposes a complete replacement of the existing superstructure with a two-track moveable bridge. Amtrak identified two feasible options for the Preferred Alternative. One option (Option A) will replace the existing bridge with a bascule bridge and will maintain the existing 150-foot channel width. The other option (Option B) will replace the existing bridge with a vertical lift bridge and provide a minimum channel width of 150 feet and a maximum of 200 feet.
The EA was available for public review and comment through June 30, 2014 at the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library (2 Library Lane, Old Lyme, CT) and the Acton Library (60 Old Boston Post Road, Old Saybrook, CT).
Based on the analysis in the Environmental Assessment, the FRA has prepared and finalized a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). With the release of the FONSI, the NEPA review for this project is complete. Additionally, FRA has satisfied its compliance with Section 106 of the NHPA with the execution of a Memorandum of Agreement with Amtrak and the Connecticut Historic Preservation Office.
For more information on the project or the EA, please contact:
Amishi Castelli, Ph.D.
Environmental Protection Specialist
Office of Program Delivery
One Bowling Green, Suite 429
New York, NY 10004