Monday, February 04, 2013

Upgrading Berkshires to NYC rail line could help local economy

Stockbridge, Mass. rail station as seen on Friday, February 1, as Governor Deval Patrick joins state and local officials to highlight an infrastructure investment that would support future train service between the Berkshires and New York City. Stockbridge, Mass. rail station as seen on Friday, February 1, as Governor Deval Patrick joins state and local officials to highlight an infrastructure investment that would support future train service between the Berkshires and New York City. Massachusetts Department of Transportation flickr page

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick joined Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary and CEO Richard Davey and other state and local officials in Stockbridge, Mass., to highlight the economic benefits of an expanded passenger rail in the region.

The Patrick-Murray Administration's 21st Century Transportation Plan includes passenger rail between Pittsfield, Mass., and New York City. The $113.8-million investment is a commitment for track rehabilitation, the installation of a signal system, improvements to grade crossings and six stations along the 37-mile rail corridor within Massachusetts.

The plan includes a $1-billion annual investment in the commonwealth's transportation system to maintain the current transportation assets and launch a number of high-impact transportation projects across Massachusetts that, if built, will create thousands of jobs and spur economic development.

"The future belongs to those who prepare for it and these preparations would be a major step toward running round-trip passenger-rail service between Pittsfield and New York City," said Gov. Patrick. "As we look to position the commonwealth for continued economic expansion, we face critical choices regarding the kinds of investments we should be making to put us in that position. Let's choose growth."

Research shows that passenger rail to the region has the potential to attract two million one-way riders annually from commuters, second homeowners, students and visitors from New York City.

In order to run passenger service, similar upgrades would be required in Connecticut. However, transportation officials in both states are optimistic that Massachusetts' efforts could be the catalyst just south of the state border.

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