Top Westport officials cry foul over planned railroad corridor

Top+Westport+officials+cry+foul+over+planned+railroad+corridor

By: Charlie Colasurdo ’18

A recently-released plan for a high-speed rail network terminating at Westport’s Greens Farms Railroad Station has garnered criticism from the Town of Westport and its officials.

The Northeast Corridor (NEC), a nearly 500-mile length of railroad track has been slated for massive renovation in a series of plans released this September. The NEC, which services both the Westport and Greens Farms railroad stations, carries more than 11 million people per year, the largest ridership of any American rail network, according to a 2015 New York Times article. The Corridor has faced various issues in recent years, primarily the aging infrastructure of the bridges, tunnels and track segments that make up the network. Westport, a long time commuter hub, faces further future uncertainty regarding its connection to the Metro-North Railroad.

To address these challenges, the Federal Railroad Administration has drafted plans for expanding the capacity and developing new infrastructure, which will require “approximately 29 miles of new right of way, near and alongside the I-95 corridor through the towns of Greenwich, Darien, Westport, Norwalk, and Stamford,” preservation nonprofit SECoast reports. Upon its release under a Freedom of Information Request, the plans noted an intent to modify the current Greens Farms Railroad Station to become a transfer point for high-speed rail from Washington D.C.

Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe along with Representative Town Meeting representative Matthew Mandell have announced vehement opposition to the plan’s proposed Westport development. “We could be talking about a train running right along 95, above and over Tarry Lodge, Tutti’s, the Duck and out over the river,” Mandell remarked in a 06880danwoog.com article that announced the plan.

Marpe, recently re-elected to his position, has appealed the FRA’s proposal, and advocated for improvement of the existing rail infrastructure. “We are committed to getting the FRA to remove any reference to a modified Green’s Farms Station and engage them on focusing on achieving a ‘state of good repairs’ for the Northeast Corridor,” Marpe noted in a Westportnow.com article published last week.

“I have been emphasizing that the government’s investment should be in the existing Metro-North system, which should be restored to a good state of repair with increased speed for the trains for our commuting population.”