Can historic New Haven depot survive Amtrak upgrades?

Published: Feb. 3, 2021 at 2:49 PM EST
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NEW HAVEN, Vt. (WCAX) - An unmovable fixture in Addison County has stood tall for over a century-and-a-half. But the train depot that for generations has been there for all to see is now at a junction.

The New Haven train depot has stood the test of time. On the corner of Routes 7 and 17 in New Haven Junction, the depot has been a prominent fixture for over 160 years.

“It’s believed that local soldiers caught the trains here to go off to the Civil War,” said Scott Reiss, whose business, Roundtree Construction, is located in the depot. But he says the future of the historic structure is uncertain. “We were recently told that we need to be out probably by June. They are giving a little ground on that so...”

It has to be moved or demolished to make way for Amtrak’s Ethan Allen route expansion from Burlington to Rutland. The passenger train will go through the intersection at speeds close to 60 miles per hour.

“The issue really is proximity to the live rail lines. The building has been struck two or three times to my knowledge, by freight trains through the years,” said Vermont Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn. Amtrak also needs a better line of sight as the train crosses the road.

Reiss says he’s willing to help move the historic depot, the problem is where. “Our feeling was that the building could be moved to about where we’re standing now and create enough of a view corridor from trains traveling from the north versus cars coming up from the South,” he said.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Why not just move it back a ways.

Joe Flynn: You know, that’s a great question and I’ve asked that question, but the problem is wetland delineation and setbacks. There really just isn’t any room.

Flynn says the town needs to decide what they want to do with the building before there can be talk of state funding. Flynn says it could be up to a half-a-million to move the brick building, with land purchase and infrastructure costs. Until then, it’s a race against time. The Ethan Allen is on track to be operational by this time next year.

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