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AMTRAK PLANS TO DEMOLISH UNUSED INTERLOCKING TOWERS: An inconspicuous brick building next to the train tracks on the Groton side of the Thames River was once a key part of operations: It was where a railroad operator would manually throw levers so a train could change tracks. Today, however, the tower is obsolete. Amtrak uses an electronic centralized traffic control system established in the mid-1980s, operated remotely in Boston, said Amtrak project engineer James Garden. The tower, along with others like it, have been abandoned or used for storage space, he said. Many have been vandalized, burned out or used by vagrants. Amtrak is proposing to demolish the Groton tower in addition to towers in Hartford, Westerly, Pawtucket, R.I., Central Falls, R.I. and Attleboro, Mass., built between 1909 and 1930. Because they're near high-powered electrified lines, the small buildings are not suitable for adaptive use and pose significant safety and security hazards, Garden said. Most have had the old machinery removed, though Attleboro still contains switch levers and an illuminated switch board. Because Amtrak receives federal funds, it has to follow a procedure outlined the National Historic Preservation Act to tear down the towers. It includes public input and possibilities for preservation by certain organizations. Amtrak is currently developing a memorandum of agreement with the state historic preservation office, Garden said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-29-08, from The Day website report by Katie Warchut]