A draft Massachusetts Freight Plan has been released in a bid to engage stakeholders within the commonwealth on how cargo moves through the region and how to plan for future needs.
The draft plan, developed by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), in conjunction with Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), includes a list of strategies that may be adopted to ensure that the $500-billion multimodal freight transportation system remains safe, reliable, sustainable and economically productive over the long term.
The public may provide feedback on the plan during a 30-day comment period, which is scheduled to close on Dec. 6, 2017.
“Freight transportation is vital in keeping Massachusetts competitive economically with domestic and international trade partners,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “We must make wise and strategic decisions to improve the infrastructure of freight corridors and to collaborate with stakeholders so our policy decisions will support this important sector of the Massachusetts economy.”
In addition to releasing the draft plan, MassDOT and Massport have applied for federal Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) funding for capital projects to upgrade the freight corridor and a shipping berth in South Boston, to improve the I-495 corridor area and to upgrade the capacity of the Massachusetts portion of the New England Central Railroad (NECR) rail line.
MassDOT’s INFRA grant request would upgrade more than 31 miles of rail and twenty bridge structures on the NECR route. MassDOT says the project “will allow shippers and receivers to ‘max out’ the carrying capacity of each rail car and thereby make rail shipping more cost-effective.” The work in Massachusetts is necessary to close the last “gap” in the 286k-lb. rail network that is being built in Vermont and Connecticut and allow for significant growth in freight shipments.