Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Concerns raised about commuter rail layover station

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It was standing room only as residents gathered at the selectmen's meeting in Westminster, Mass., to learn more about the plan to build a commuter railway station at Routes 2 and 31, locla newspapers report. The plan also includes building a layover station farther west at the Westminster business park, along which the rail line runs, that would hold up to six commuter trains. That part of the plan also includes a parking area for 286 vehicles, handicap parking and a waiting area.

The project would be built as part of a railway improvement plan in the Montachusett region. The Montachusett Area Regional Transit Authority, the city of Fitchburg and the state are looking to join with the town in requesting a $65-million federal grant to pay for most of the project. The application deadline is next week.

Selectman Laila J. Michaud said she supports the project, but pros and cons need to be considered.

But there are concerns the pollution from the layover station would affect Crocker Pond, the only public swimming facility in town, and the noise and fumes generated by trains there could be offensive.

Advisory Board member William Taylor said he is against the project.

"The concern of residents is that the railroad is a bad neighbor," he said.

He said the vibration from the trains would be felt in nearby houses and the carbon emissions would hang in the air on a moist night.

"And they just don't maintain their property," he said of the railroad.

Town Coordinator Karen Murphy said a rail line could bring other businesses into town.
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