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Connecticut Shoreline Rail Vulnerable to Floods

Long stretches of Connecticut's "lifeblood" shoreline rail line lie in the path of rising seas and future floods. While moving the tracks further inland is prohibitively expensive, a resilience plan is still needed.
August 7, 2015, 7am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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In the first of two articles on a vulnerable stretch of rail, Jan Ellen Spiegel discusses Connecticut's difficult path toward climate change resilience. "When storm Sandy hit in October 2012, the tracks in Bridgeport stayed dry, but the storm surge still flowed out to the street — appropriately Water Street — leaving the train station an island with its entrances inaccessible and part of the embankment under the tracks washed away."

More storms are yet to come, potentially submerging sections of track altogether. "The prospect has some worrying that the state plan to spend billions fixing long-standing safety and reliability problems and upgrading the line to encourage ridership will entrench the system in locations that may not be the best environmental choices." 

In addition to dense development around the tracks, these projects ensure that the line will not, in all likelihood, be moved further inland. 

Regional planners and the train operators have instead focused on resilience, in the knowledge that cleaning up after floods will be easier than building a system immune to them. "The MTA's Dutta said flexibility is a key component of recovery, which can include suspending service. It can also include moving equipment such as trains, ground-level switches and all manner of electrical components that are especially susceptible to salt-water damage."

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Published on Wednesday, July 15, 2015 in The Connecticut Mirror
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