Amtrak’s plan for Northeast Corridor Improvements.

My local paper had this article in it the other day.

The “Preferred Alternative: A Vision for Growth of the Northeast Corridor,” as laid out at, shows tunnels, trenches, embankments and “aerial structures” carving new routes through the highly developed corridor.

Those and other improvements, from Washington, D.C., to Boston, would boost capacity and shorten travel times, the FRA said.

But, local officials and one commuter advocate aren’t swooning over the plan, which could entail extensive property seizures and massive construction in densely populated communities.

“Be careful what you wish,” said Jim Cameron, founder of the Commuter Action Group, which represents Metro-North Railroad and Shore Line East riders. “If the state basically said to the Federal Railroad Administration, ‘We endorse going along the coast,’ now they’re going to have to look at the consequences of this realignment, because it’s massive disruption in some of the most affluent communities in the state.”

Cameron said an inland route following Interstate 84 would achieve “true world-class high-speed rail” without disrupting densely populated coastal communities.

According to the FRA, the Preferred Alternative would increase the number of trains and improve performance along the Northeast Corridor. The number of trains running daily from Penn Station to Boston, for example, would increase from 19 to 94. The travel time would decrease from three hours and 30 minutes to two hours and 45 minutes.

To boost capacity and improve performance between New York City and Boston, the FRA has recommended improvements to the existing line and adding several new segments. Among the latter would be new two-track segment, beginning west of the New Rochelle station and continuing into Fairfield County. The segment would allow for more trains to operate between New York and Boston and allow express trains to pass local or freight trains, the FRA said.

Here’s the NEC Future site

Here is the page for the “preferred alternative.”

They hid the more or less detailed map in the Enivronmental Impact Statement, but here it is.

One thing that I see is that the people who wrote this up probably did it with the map in hand and haven’t really seen the area, at least in my neighborhood.  Now the map shows RTE 95 as being relatively straight and flat.  As somebody who has traversed that stretch of  RTE 95 thousands of times, it’s neither.  That stretch is scary enough at 65, let alone at 150 mph+ . The fact is that coastal Ct through Fairfield and New Haven Counties is mostly ridge and valleys all running North and South.  The Original New Haven Line(now Metro North’s New Haven Line) ran as close to the coast as possible and even then is mostly cuts and embankments.  Along with curves, lots of them.  Those curves have been the bane of the railroad’s existence since it was laid out back in the 1850’s

Still the RTE 95 route is even worse.  What interesting is that according to the NEC Future website, most of the route through Fairfield County will be “aerial structures.” That’s especially true of the route through Greenwich and Stamford.  Which tells me that these people are either not serious about actual improvements to the NEC or really want to stick it to a bunch of wealth and well connected people with lots of clout. Because I know what Aerial structures for high speed trains means.

Here’s a picture of the Tohoku Shinkansen structure near Omiya Station.


The is typical aerial structure high speed railbed in Japan.  It’s also something that would never fly in here in CT.  Even out in the eastern part of the state, the opposition is stiff and in Fairfield County the opposition would be incredible.

The funny thing to me is that the “preferred alternative” didn’t eve address the biggest opportunity for real improvement, a tunnel through east Bridgeport to eliminate the 35 MPH Jenkins curve.  Right now the tunnel and a new station could be built relatively cheaply because East Bridgeport is mostly empty lots with various and sundry development plans that have gone awry.  Yet the rout through Bridgeport, with it’s 19th Century  roadway is kept intact while the route messes around in Greenwich and Stamford real estate.   Which tells me that the whole thing can’t really be taken seriously. Which is a shame because the improvements are really needed and all this did was waste money that could have been spent on other things that Amtrak needs or even better, not spent at all.

The Great Exit

This is something that  would NEVER expect to hear.  “Greenwich is the worst housing market.”

Here’s a drive down Greenwich Ave in the middle of town. Now I haven’t been down Greenwich Ave in at least 15 years. I Haven’t had a real need to go there and there are no shops on the Ave that I want to visit, so why go. Still it’s amazing how little it’s changed since I moved out of town in 1991. Still too much wretched excess. Thanks to zoning and the fact that the town is close the train to NYC I don’t think that things will change very much.

Now I grew up in Greenwich.  In all the time that I lived there, house prices only went in one direction, up.  That seems to have changed. Apparently the economic issues that are hitting the rest of the state are hitting Greenwich as well.  I’ve posted about those issues before, with more coming.

Still when you see the signs of decline in place that heretofore you thought were relatively immune the reality of how deep the problems are become clear. The fact is that the state is eating itself and somehow our elected officials don’t seem to understand that there may be no crawling back unless truly radical changes are made.  It’s not just Connecticut.  As the following post from the Powerline Blog shows, it’s most or all the blue states. Every single one is losing population to more red states.  More importantly the businesses that are the source of jobs and revenue are probably leaving even faster.


Blue State Exodus

If things keep going in current trends, the blue states are going to be up a creek without the obligatory paddle.  They will have made too many promises and the people who are supposed to pay for those promises and debts, all too often made in back rooms will just fade away, leaving nothing more than a empty husk where there was once prosperity.  This erosion has been going on  one way or another for my entire life, but Connecticut, at least had been avoiding dealing with the consequences of that until fairly recently.  The bill, at last has come due and all the bad polices have come home to roost.  Hopefully, we can change things before things get even worse, but right now, that’s a slim hope indeed.

Update NY too:

The Wrong Kind Of Business

Here in the gold coast region of Fairfield County the drive has always been to attract more Wall St and other financial businesses in favor of just about everything else. Trading was the business and Stamford, where the current governor hales from became essentially a company town for pushing tokens.  The factories and production that had made the city what it was had been driven out and the keys to the city given to the big money being made to push bigger money around. Well that could not be sustained and it hasn’t.

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Another Of CT’s Economic Problems

This is typical of state politics. It’s called, let’s keep the state from growing under any circumstances.

This is a classic case.  A small group of homeowners stopping needed infrastructure improvements regardless of the consequences to the rest of the state.  I know that many states have NIMBY problems, but Connecticut takes those problems to a whole new level. At this point it is virtually impossible to get vitally needed infrastructure improvements started, let alone completed. This has been a trend here in CT since the early 1980’s or so. Small groups of politically connected very vocal  citizens block a highway, pipeline, power plant, large store or other development or infrastructure improvement strictly on narrow self interest.  About 1/2 mile from me a quickly created “citizens group” was formed to “protect the Merritt Parkway” blocked a badly need interchange improvement.  It turned that this “conservation” group was the creation of a lawyer who owned a building next to the interchange who would have had cars passing a few feet closer to his building. Never mind the fact that the parkway was built in the 1930’s as a make work project and that the interchange desperately needs improvement if for no other reason than to prevent accidents.

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Old Engines, A Tech Stuff Special

Recently I posted this video in Tech Stuff. Since people seemed to like it and I really like big massive machinery I thought that I would make Tech Stuff special post with engines, lots of the big engines and some not so big.  Also The CT Antique machinery show is coming up and this is a good way to show off the show.

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