The $10.2-million ARRA investment will fund the first stage of the Fitchburg Commuter Rail Improvement Project that will improve speed, service and reliability on this important rail line. The projects, which include an additional $39 million in ARRA funding for double-tracking and $150 million in New Starts funding, will support the installation of new switches and signals as well as two new renovated stations and the reconstruction of existing track on the state's oldest commuter rail line. The installation of a new universal crossover at the Leominster location is part of the early work program of the overall Fitchburg Line program and will enhance both freight and commuter rail operations in the region.
"This project will reduce travel time to and from Boston, greatly enhancing service for the region's commuters and business that depend on this vital line," said Governor Patrick. "Thanks in large part to Congressman Olver's advocacy, we are using federal recovery dollars to make the kind of smart investments that put people to work immediately and give the regional economy a boost today and over the long term."
Funded with ARRA funds provided through the Federal Transit Administration, the project will have immediate economic impacts and lay the groundwork for improvements to track capacity and service reliability. When complete, the Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line Improvement Project will provide modernized, state-of-the-art infrastructure allowing 80 mile-per-hour travel speeds along the line, up to 12% better on-time performance and reduced operating and maintenance costs.
In November, Secretary Mullan and MBTA Acting General Manager Bill Mitchell announced the hiring of a diverse group of 15 employees with ARRA funds to support this project. The 15 Track Laborer jobs involve work relative to the construction of the track and right-of-way projects as part of the larger Fitchburg project to modernize the existing commuter rail line along the 50-mile corridor from Fitchburg to Boston. MBCR operates and maintains the commuter rail network under contract with the MBTA.
The Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line has the oldest infrastructure in the MBTA system. It also is the longest in terms of both distance and travel time and serves a region with limited commuter options.