Session B4

Connecticut New Haven-Hartford-Springfield High Speed Rail Program: Mitigating for Rare Flora and Fauna

Laurel Stegina, AICP; Amanda Saul, Marla Engel, Robert Graham, Ryan Apanovitch, and Dan Hageman

9:00 – 10:30 AM (PT) | 12:00 – 1:30 PM (ET)

About the Presentation

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) in cooperation with National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) is in the process of undertaking a program of rail infrastructure and service improvements under the Federal Railroad Administration's High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program along the existing 62-mile New Haven-Hartford-Springfield (NHHS) Rail Corridor between New Haven, Connecticut and Springfield, Massachusetts. The NHHS Rail Corridor is owned and operated by Amtrak. In addition to restoring double tracking and upgrading signal systems, new stations, culvert, drainage and other improvements are underway and planned for the future.

To compensate for impacts resulting from early phases of the project to wetlands, watercourse. and rare species habitat, CTDOT and Amtrak have planned for and are implementing a wide-ranging compensatory mitigation plan. The rail corridor passes through habitat for several federal and state threatened, endangered, and/or special concern species, including plants, reptiles and amphibians, birds, mammals, and invertebrates. Mitigation efforts included relocation of plants from the project impact zone to an adjacent mitigation site, developing turtle "escape routes" under the track to allow for safe passage, creating herbicide "no spray zones" for amphibians and their habitat areas, and maintaining large trees suitable for bat habitat.

In addition to avoidance of impacts to areas with host plants for sensitive invertebrate species, removal of invasive plant species has had the dual benefit of creating additional areas for these native host plants. Stream restoration was undertaken at a major river crossing to mitigate for fisheries impacts. Additionally, an off-site wetland mitigation site was created to compensate for wetland impacts. Wetland mitigation included innovative techniques, such as introduction of beetles to the site to control invasive plant species. This proposed session would present and illustrate with a photo-gallery this mitigation effort and bring together speakers from CTDOT, Amtrak, and biologists and planners working on this effort.

Planning & Permitting Track, 1.5 AICP Credits

About the Speakers

Laurel Stegina, AICP
Senior Project Manager
Fitzgerald & Halliday, Inc.

Laurel is a Senior Project Manager and Manager of Permitting and Field Studies for Fitzgerald & Halliday, Inc. (FHI). She has over 25 years of experience in environmental and transportation planning and public involvement. She has been with FHI for over 16 years. Laurel has participated in habitat assessments and biological surveys for a variety of flora and fauna. She has lead the preparation of incidental take reports and wetland mitigation planning efforts for FHI. She has an interdisciplinary Bachelor's degree from Wesleyan University and a Masters in Forestry from Yale University. In her leisure time, she plants and cares for milkweed in her yard for monarch butterflies.

Amanda M. Saul
Transportation Planner 2 - Senior Transportation Planner
Connecticut Department of Transportation

Amanda is a Senior Transportation Planner with the Connecticut Department of Transportation's Office of Environmental Planning; Environmental Permitting Unit having joined the Department in 2011. Prior to DOT, Amanda worked in the private sector for an environmental consulting firm for nine years. She attended Clarion University and received a BS in Biology with a concentration in Applied Ecology and completed Graduate work in Natural Resources at the UCONN. Amanda specializes in State and Federal permitting, regulatory & policy matters, resource coordination, threatened and endangered species surveys, and process training for Department Staff and Consultants. She leads design and permit reviews of Consultant designed projects and prepares permits and support documentation for projects designed by Department staff. Amanda has a soft spot for botany, always working to improve upon her identification skills of northeastern flora. She has served as the Secretary of the Connecticut Association of Wetland Scientists since 2010.

Marla Engel
Director of Environmental Planning for New England

Marla Engel, AICP is WSP's Director of Environmental Planning for New England and the firm's environmental lead for aviation projects nationwide. She started her career on the Boston Harbor Cleanup in 1984 and ever since, has been conducting NEPA compliance and permitting for airport, rail and transit projects. Marla has a Master of Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina and 30 years of consulting experience. Prior to joining WSP 5 years ago, she spent 4 very informative years at the Volpe Center working with nearly all of the federal transportation and lands agencies. Marla enjoys traveling with her family, who endure her penchant for tours of engineering marvels like the Maeslant Barrier in Rotterdam and the up and coming, edgier parts of cities.

Robert Graham
Senior Project Manager for Environmental Compliance

Robert Graham is a Senior Project Manager for Environmental Compliance with Amtrak's Environment and Sustainability Group. He is responsible for overseeing environmental compliance activities at Amtrak facilities and along Amtrak owned or managed railroad rights-of-way in New England, including environmental permitting support for major capital projects. Prior to joining Amtrak in 1998, Mr. Graham worked for Geraghty & Miller, Inc. as a hydrogeologist on projects that focused on subsurface contamination assessment at industrial sites.

Ryan Apanovitch
Environmental Scientist

Ryan Apanovitch is an Environmental Scientist with AECOM.  He graduated from Fairfield University with a B.S. in Biology and has completed post graduate coursework at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst which qualifies him as a soil scientist in accordance with the US Office of Personnel Management standards.  Ryan has over 18 years of experience in the environmental field.  He has worked for the State of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the State of Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT), and most currently as a consultant for AECOM.  Ryan has worked on the New Haven – Hartford – Springfield (NHHS) rail program as both an employee of CTDOT and on behalf of Amtrak.  Ryan has extensive knowledge of both State and Federal environmental regulations, NEPA requirements, and has worked throughout his career building relationships which bridge the gap between Transportation and the Environment.

Dan Hageman
Senior Environmental Scientist and Soil Scientist
FHI Studio

Mr. Hageman is a Senior Environmental Scientist and Soil Scientist at FHI Studio. He graduated from the University of Connecticut (UCONN) with a B.S. major in Natural Resource Management and Engineering and a minor in Soil Science. He has completed post graduate coursework at UCONN and the University of Massachusetts in soil science and is also a New Hampshire Certified Wetland Scientist. Mr. Hageman has over 28 years of professional experience in the environmental field related to a broad range of infrastructure, utility, transportation, and conservation projects. Mr. Hageman conducts wetland/habitat assessments, natural resource inventories, post-construction monitoring and surveys, and mitigation planning and design services. His work also includes biological assessments and field surveys for threatened and endangered wildlife and vegetation species. His role in the New Haven – Hartford – Springfield Rail Program was Environmental Permit Lead as well as agency coordination, field surveys, and mitigation planning.