Amtrak opponents fear high-speed plans

OLD LYME, Conn. (AP) — This quaint shoreline community, proud of its role as a nursery of American Impressionist art, fears the destruction of its heritage if a federal proposal to someday run an East Coast high-speed rail line through its historic center becomes reality.

Residents of Old Lyme, population 7,600, have enlisted nearby communities in Connecticut and Rhode Island to stop a 50-mile portion of the proposed Northeast Corridor Future plan. They're awaiting a recommendation, possibly before the end of the year, from the Federal Railroad Administration on a "preferred alternative" route for a faster, modern Boston-to-Washington line.

The proposal includes a bypass between Old Saybrook, Conn., and Richmond, R.I., that would run new high-speed Amtrak trains – in some places, on elevated tracks – through historic neighborhoods, an arts college, marshlands, commercial districts and tourist attractions, including the Florence Griswold Museum.

"I think this region, whether it's a tourist engine or just something worth preserving, it's worth the fight," said Gregory Stroud, an Old Lyme resident and academic who formed SECoast, a regional group leading the local opposition. It has enlisted the support of state and local politicians and is raising money to prepare for a possible legal challenge, depending on the Railroad Administration's recommendation.