Thursday, March 23, 2017

South Coast Rail will incorporate “Middleborough Route”

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South Coast Rail will incorporate “Middleborough Route” MBTA

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is planning to construct the South Coast Rail project in two phases, beginning with the Middleborough Route.

 

MassDOT filed a Notice of Project Change (NPC) for the South Coast Rail (SCR) Project with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) Office on March 15, 2017. MassDOT says taking a phased approach to construction and utilizing the existing Middleborough/Lakeville Commuter Rail Line will provide service sooner than if the project was constructed all at once.

"Our administration is committed to providing the South Coast with commuter rail service as expeditiously and efficiently as possible," said Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker. "Pursuing the Middleborough/Lakeville early action service while advancing the Stoughton Electric final phase service will facilitate commuter rail service to the region years earlier."

The 7.5-mile Middleborough Secondary Line, which must be upgraded to handle commuter rail traffic. While the MEPA review is underway, MassDOT will advance work on the so-called Southern Triangle, from Cotley Junction in Taunton south through Berkley, Lakeville, Freetown, Fall River, and New Bedford, which is common to both the early action and final phases of the project.

The first phase of the project would extend and upgrade the existing Middleborough/Lakeville Line via the 7.5-mile Middleborough Secondary Line, which provides a quicker, less expensive option for service to and from New Bedford and Fall River. Trains heading towards the South Coast would then join the New Bedford Main Line and continue to New Bedford or branch off on the Fall River Secondary to Fall River. Phase 1 service would be diesel, as the existing Middleborough Line does not include the overhead catenary required for electric service. Phase 1 would also include the construction of several new stations and layover facilities in the Southern Triangle.

As the early action service is permitted and implemented, MassDOT would continue to advance design of the Stoughton Electric Phase 2 of the SCR Project. This phase consists of new track, signals and stations between Canton Center and Cotley Junction.

"We are pleased to continue advancing the South Coast Rail Project and working towards providing commuter rail service to the South Coast region in a timely and efficient manner," said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. "This Notice of Project Change allows MassDOT to analyze impacts and incorporate public input of the proposed change to develop this project in phases. This will enable us to provide passenger rail to the South Coast region years sooner than would be the case if the project were constructed at one time."

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