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Rail bypass opponents rally at RI State House

A Rhode Island town government opposed to federal plans for a new Amtrak route has taken its concerns to the State House by busing in protesters.

The Wednesday rally opposed a high-speed rail bypass route that could be built from Old Lyme, Connecticut, into southwest Rhode Island.

Westerly Town Manager Derrik Kennedy says the town booked the bus for the 45-mile ride to Providence so about two dozen bypass opponents could urge state leaders to act.

Federal railroad regulators last month unveiled a plan to upgrade Amtrak's Washington-to-Boston Northeast Corridor over the coming decades. One recommendation would speed up southern New England travel by creating a straighter route for high-speed trains.

The Federal Railroad Administration has also scheduled a meeting about the recommendations on Wednesday in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, Gov. Gina Raimondo spoke to NBC 10's Dan Jaehnig about the plan during a live segment of Connect to the Capitol on NBC 10 News.

"I've spent a lot of time in the past couple of weeks listening to the people of South County -- Charlestown and Richmond -- and I cannot support the plan that's before us now mainly because I've become convinced by the community that there's environmental issues, preservation issues, quality of life issues," Raimondo told Jaehnig. "Quite frankly, I think the FRA can come up with a better plan. So, I'm going to be submitting a letter to the FRA, essentially withdrawing Rhode Island's support for the plan as it exists and asking them to come up with a better plan, which is better for the people of Rhode Island."

During the rally, opponents celebrated support they said they’ve received from Raimondo, with many of them meeting with the governor ahead of the event.

But while Raimondo is joining in the opposition, she can only make her feelings known on the matter, as the FRA has the final say.

(NBC 10 News contributed to this report.)

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