POSITION OF CCATS - (Revised April 2009)
‘Citizens Concerned About Tracks’ supports reestablishment of safe, efficient and reliable commuter rail service to Southeastern Massachusetts from Boston to the City of Taunton, and the seaport communities of New Bedford and Fall River.
The CCATS Coalition, representing the communities of Attleboro, Taunton, Norton and Mansfield is adamantly opposed to the proposed ‘Attleboro Alternatives’.
We also reject the new ‘Whittenton Variation’ of the Stoughton Route, and believe the ORIGINAL Stoughton Option is the only one which will meet the project goal for South Coast Rail.
We will continue to work with all those who share our vision and commitment to eliminate the ill-advised Attleboro Alternatives - once and for all from consideration. And this time, we intend to ensure that the decision is final.
WHY WE HAVE OPPOSED THE ATTLEBORO ALTERNATIVES:
IN A NUTSHELL Logic, Safety Concerns, Destruction of Taunton No Benefits to Other Three Communities in Our Coalition, Capacity Constraints on the N.E. Corridor Shore Line, Environmental Impacts, ROW Issues with National Grid and CSX, Lack of Economic Opportunities/Smart Growth from Taunton north…
The Attleboro Alternative is the most circuitous route, with an extensive trip time from New Bedford and Fall River of approximately one and one half hours.
The Attleboro Alternative would do irreversible damage to Taunton, a city which expected to benefit from the extension of commuter rail. Taunton - which hoped to become the ‘Gateway to The South Coast’ (when the Original Stoughton Route was approved), would instead become a crippled city. The Attleboro Alternative with 15 at-grade crossings in Taunton (eleven within a one and one quarter mile segment of the inner city) would put those who live or work in Taunton, and the City itself on the ‘Endangered Species List’. Even the strongest advocates for commuter rail to New Bedford & Fall River cannot wish this fate on their sister City of Taunton.
There are absolutely No Benefits to the other three communities in the CCATS Coalition. The trains would not stop in Attleboro (unless they hit something or someone), the proposed pickup/drop off depot at a remote location in Norton would be more detrimental than beneficial to that community, and both elected officials and residents of Mansfield are opposed to any additional train traffic through their town.
Our position has remained constant - that: The ‘Shore Line’ portion of the Northeast Corridor from Attleboro, through Mansfield, Foxboro and Sharon is already maxed out, with the busiest schedule of MBTA trains, plus Amtrak: High Speed Rail & Acelas, as well as CSX freight traffic. There simply is no capacity on this line to add more MBTA trains. If any slots were available, they must be reserved for Amtrak (whose trains run from Boston to New York City, and on to Washington D.C.), not taken by a Massachusetts regional service. This factor was recognized in the EIR of 2000, and substantiated again in the November 2008 ENF.
For the most current study, the project proponent (EOT) and their consultant (VHB) took the exercise one step further. Was there ANY way to provide service to the South Coast Rail trains along the Attleboro Route?
The answer, as of the November 2008 ENF was/is: Construction of a new third set of tracks (with extended catenary system) along the almost 20 mile stretch of the Northeast Corridor/Shore Line - from the junction of the Attleboro By-Pass in the southwest corner of Mansfield, through the centers of Mansfield, Foxboro, Sharon, Canton, Westwood, Dedham and into the Readville Section of Boston. Addition of this track would require: Reconstruction of at least 22 railroad and highway bridges, a new bridge parallel to the historic Canton Viaduct, and moving the stations in Mansfield, Sharon and Canton Junction. Best Case Scenario: This would require closing the three stations for approximately one month.
As of this April 2009 update, it is still unclear which side of the existing N.E. Corridor rail the new track would be constructed, perhaps both sides with a crossover around Sharon. We do believe the new third set of tracks is planned for the easterly/inbound side in Mansfield and Foxboro. Exactly what would occur in Sharon, Canton, Westwood and Dedham has yet to be determined.
The 2.55 mile ‘Attleboro by-Pass’, double track where no rail bed has ever existed, would require: Clearing and habitat loss of 15 acres, Filling of at least 5 and one half acres of mostly virgin wetlands (field studies indicate this is grossly underestimated), Impact a 100 year floodplain, Include the invasion and fragmentation of several designated conservation areas, Construction of new double track at Chartley Swamp. The necessary reconstruction of old freight track would impact the Three Mile River ACEC.
Construction of the additional rail and extension of the catenary along the Northeast Corridor would require filling of at least 4+ acres of wetland, (likely underestimated) and also impact the Neponset River, the Canoe River Aquifer ACEC, as well as the Fowl Meadow and Ponkapoag Bog ACEC.
Additionally, this alternative would run adjacent to or intersect 13 public water supply protection areas affecting: Mansfield, Sharon, Canton, Westwood and Dedham.
The 2.55 mile ‘Attleboro By-Pass’ would run adjacent to and cross through the National Grid High Tension Power Line Right-of-Way in Norton & Attleboro. The challenge of engineering and constructing double track here is daunting, but the permanent operation of 38 trains a day in this ROW area also raises critical, long-term liability questions.
The Attleboro Alternative offers no economic incentives or benefits to the four communities in the CCATS Coalition, or to those along the route north of us. Attleboro, Norton & Mansfield have already experienced residential, commercial and industrial growth with access to: Rtes. 95 & 495, and are well served by commuter rail stations in Attleboro, S. Attleboro and Mansfield as well as GATRA. The case for Taunton is obvious.
The Attleboro Alternative is fatally flawed. The destruction it would cause cannot be justified. Inhabitants of our area should not be sacrificed for the perceived good of another region.
If CCATS were to endorse any of the options for commuter rail to the South Coast, it would have to be the Original Stoughton Alternative, because it is the only one that benefits the City of Taunton. ‘Citizens Concerned About Tracks’ was, is and always will be - a regional coalition representing the cities of Attleboro and Taunton, as well as the towns of Norton and Mansfield. There is no offer, to one or even two of our communities, that will alter CCATS united front in opposing the ill-advised Attleboro Alternative. The South Coast Rail project will never come to fruition via this route.
POSITION OF ELECTED OFFICIALSOpposes The Attleboro Option
- North Attleboro Board of Selectmen
- State Representative Steven D’Amico
- State Representative Elizabeth Poirier
- State Senator Joan Menard
- US Congressman Barney Frank
- Mansfield Board of Selectman
- Norton Board of Selectmen
- Mayor Kevin Dumas, Attleboro
- Attleboro Municipal Council - (Council Resolution, Click Here)
- Mayor Charles Crowley, Taunton
- Taunton Municipal Council
- State Representative F. Jay Barrows
- State Representative Bill Bowles
- State Representative James Fagan
- State Senator James Timilty
- State Senator Marc Pacheco
State Representative Robert Koczera - “I have been previously supportive of the Stoughton Alternative as the best rail route from the cities of New Bedford, Fall River and Taunton to Boston. This alternative route is the most advantageous with stops at Back Bay and South Station, and was designated as the preferred route during the previous attempt to expand rail service to these three cities. I expect the Stoughton Alternative will be found to be the preferred route at the conclusion of the current process.”