Tuesday, January 30, 2018

MassDOT releases draft state rail plan

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MassDOT has released and is taking public comment on the new draft of its Massachusetts State Rail Plan. MassDOT has released and is taking public comment on the new draft of its Massachusetts State Rail Plan.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has released and is taking public comment on the new draft of its Massachusetts State Rail Plan.

The draft outlines Massachusetts' priorities and proposed plans for the next two decades of passenger and freight rail investments, officials said.

The draft plan includes the following:

  • A commitment to study east-west passenger rail service between Springfield and Boston
  • Classification of Springfield to Greenfield pilot service as a priority for implementation
  • A continued commitment to both South Coast Rail Phase I in the short-term and the project's full build in the long-term

The Draft State Rail Plan identifies planned improvements to the intercity passenger and freight rail system and details the commonwealth's priorities based on MassDOT's Capital Investment Plan, officials said.

MassDOT said state-of-good-repair investment would continue to be a priority in its long-term investment strategy. The department said the draft plan also identifies modernization and expansion projects that are prioritized for implementation; those that warrant further study and those, which have no currently recommended action.

"The finalized State Rail Plan will help guide the commonwealth's investments in both passenger and freight rail services for years to come and ensure project coordination between local, state, and federal partners, as well as with other key stakeholders," said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack.

Pollack said the 20-year plan will support the development of regional transportation corridors, adding that investments in such assets are designed to improve the rail system, add capacity and meet the needs of rail customers.

Officials noted the Draft State Rail Plan meets the Federal Railroad Administration's requirements to regularly update a comprehensive state rail plan.

"The plan's commitment to further study and analyze the costs and impacts of various proposed service models for service from Boston to western Massachusetts reflects requests for such a review," MassDOT said. "Over the next few months, MassDOT plans to develop a Request for Proposals for a thorough and robust study and analysis of such possible service."

MassDOT said it is also preparing a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (DSEIR) on Phase 1 on South Coast Rail for filing in early 2018.

The draft plan also prioritizes Springfield to Greenfield pilot service for implementation, officials noted. MassDOT is looking to build off Connecticut DOT's CT Rail Service that is set to begin this year from New Haven to Springfield, adding through service to Greenfield as a pilot.

"The governor's draft rail plan outlines steps toward a better connected commonwealth," said Joseph Boncore (D-Winthrop), state senate chairman of the Joint Committee on Transportation. "These priorities and investments in our rail lines will improve access to goods, jobs and housing for the whole of the state, further strengthening the Commonwealth's economy."

The public comment period on the Draft State Rail Plan is open through Feb. 16, MassDOT said. The draft plan is available to view here

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