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July 7, 1997
TO THE HONORABLE, THE SENATE:
In accordance with the provisions of Section 43-1-4 of the General Laws, I am transmitting herewith, with my disapproval, 97-S 406 Substitute A, As Amended, "An Act Relating to Acquisition of Land by the State."
This Act would require the Department of Transportation to purchase at fair market value all residential property located on Michigan Avenue in the City of Warwick adjacent to the "Northeast Railway Corridor."
Construction of the electrification project, called the Northeast Corridor Improvement Program, from New Haven to Boston has begun. In order to accurately gauge the degree of noise and vibration caused by the project, and therefore what degree of mitigation is warranted, a detailed analysis has been undertaken along the entire corridor to measure current noise and vibration impacts. This analysis will be compared to noise and vibration levels after the project is complete. At the appropriate time, Amtrak will initiate all necessary mitigation services and requirements.
This Act, however, presumes that only the State should offer to mitigate what are expected to be primarily Amtrak-related nuisances. The legislation also requires that the offer occur before the potential nuisance can be measured. Moreover, the Freight Rail Improvement Project is in the final environmental review stage. The review includes a similar before-and-after analysis of potential nuisances as the Amtrak project. When the project is completed, in three to four years, all necessary mitigation services and requirements will be performed.
This Act would set a very poor precedent because the Freight Rail Improvement Project design studies show no expected acquisitions in the Michigan Avenue area. Mitigation measures, such as the construction of sound barriers, or the planting of trees or shrubs may be required, but the studies show that the acquisition contemplated by this Act is not required. Thus, this Act may result in excessive and unnecessary project expenses which are unbudgeted and may total $2 million. To the extent the acquisitions required by the Act exceed federal i criteria for mitigation measures, federal reimbursement would be unavailable and the cost would be borne solely by the State.
More importantly, this Act also would represent very bad precedent in that other neighborhoods may wish to have the option of requiring residential properties to be acquired.
For the following reasons, I disapprove of this legislation and respectfully urge your support of this veto.