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Groundbreaking set for $10.2-million Mass. commuter rail project

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PRESS RELEASE  As part of the Patrick-Murray Administration's Massachusetts Recovery Plan, Governor Deval Patrick joined Congressman John Olver and local elected officials in Leominster, Mass., to announce the groundbreaking of the first rail improvement project in Massachusetts supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  

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.

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