Tuesday, January 15, 2013

MassDOT’s transportation plan includes $3.8 billion in rail projects

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation Board and Transportation Secretary and CEO Richard Davey set a plan for the next generation of transportation investment in the commonwealth.

The long-term financing plan shows that the state needs $684 million to operate the same system as of today. The plan calls for $3.8 billion to invest in existing transit services.

The plan identifies a number of high-impact transportation projects across Massachusetts that, if built, will create thousands of jobs and spur economic development across the commonwealth. In all, the plan identifies a $1.02 billion average additional need each year.

"The plan released today is a stark, clear-eyed, non-partisan presentation of the facts," said Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. "If we are serious about improving our transportation system for a generation, then we have to be willing to make the necessary investments. We must invest in transportation, not for the sake of transportation itself, but for the jobs and economic opportunity it creates."

The plan allows for targeted expansion projects across the state. These expansions focus on areas of the state where opportunity is constrained by substandard service or by lack of access.

Projects include:

• South Coast Rail ($1.8 billion) – Completion of the South Coast Rail Line with diesel-fueled commuter trains to connect Boston to Fall River and New Bedford. The project is expected to create 3,800 jobs and generate $500 million in new economic activity statewide annually.

• Green Line Extension ($674 million) – Extension of the current Green Line from relocated Lechmere station in Cambridge to College Avenue in Medford, fulfilling a commitment made during the construction of the Central Artery Project and unlocking new economic opportunity in the region.

• South Station Expansion ($850 million) – Design and construction, within 10 years, of an expanded South Station that will accommodate future passenger rail growth for the existing commuter rail system, South Coast rail, Amtrak, Worcester to Springfield rail and future high-speed service to Montreal.

• Rail between Springfield and Boston ($362.4 million) –Passenger rail service directly connecting Boston with Springfield via the Inland Route. Funding will cover rehabilitation along the route, creating a second track, widening bridges, upgrading signals, purchasing train equipment and constructing or rehabilitating stations. This will also support future high-speed rail connection to New York City via Springfield.

• Berkshires to NYC Rail ($113.8 million) – Rehabilitation of track, signals and structures between Pittsfield and the Massachusetts-Connecticut state line to support future rail service between Pittsfield and New York City. The current line is served by freight carriers and is not up to standards necessary for commuter service.

• Rail to Cape Cod ($20.8 million) – Seasonal service on weekends between Boston and Hyannis. Upgrades rail, grade crossings, bridges and station accessibility. Service during the summer season will connect a key tourist destination with Boston.

The plan does not fund all the capital projects that have been proposed recently and in the past, including the Urban Ring, North-South Rail Link or Red-Blue Line Connector.

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