PATRICK-MURRAY ADMINISTRATION, CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION ANNOUNCE MORE THAN $160 MILLION IN FEDERAL RAIL GRANTS
Awarded through a competitive process, the Federal Railroad Administration High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail grant will fund the environmental permitting and design phase of the South Station expansion project, which includes constructing seven new tracks at South Station. The expansion will support a significant increase in Amtrak Acela Express High Speed Rail service to Boston along with planned MBTA commuter rail service expansion.
"We are committed to expanding commuter rail service and improving high-speed rail in the Commonwealth, and this successful grant application will put real designs behind a visionary plan to expand South Station," said Governor Deval Patrick. "Taken together with additional awards to further plans to connect western Massachusetts and Boston rail service to other New England states, this is an exceptional day for commuters, local economies and our state's long-term strength. I am grateful to our partners in the Obama Administration and the Congressional delegation for working with my team to deliver for Massachusetts time and time again."
The Patrick-Murray Administration and the Congressional delegation also celebrated today's award of $120 million to the Connecticut Department of Transportation for the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Corridor, including restoration of double track on the line to improve travel times, to serve western Massachusetts and provide a foundation for increased service between Boston and New York via Springfield and Worcester on the Inland Route.
Additionally, the New Hampshire Department of Transportation received a $2.24 million planning grant for the Capital Corridor between Boston and Concord, New Hampshire, a 73-mile rail corridor that would connect the two state capitols. Maine and the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority received a $600,000 planning grant for improvements to the Downeaster service between Boston and Portland, Maine. The South Station Project, New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Corridor and the New Hampshire and Maine planning studies clearly indicate the hard work New England states are doing together to advance a regionwide vision for passenger rail.
Massachusetts and eleven other states from Maine to Virginia and the District of Columbia were also awarded a $10 million multi-state planning grant to study the role that intercity and high-speed passenger rail can play in helping improve the region's transportation network, expand capacity, relieve highway and aviation congestion and stimulate sustainable economic growth along the Northeast Corridor.
"This grant funding marks a major milestone in the planning for the South Station project and commuter rail expansion, which will better serve residents and enhance economic development opportunities in the Central, Metrowest, Southcoast and Western regions of the Commonwealth," said Lieutenant Governor Murray. "We thank the Obama Administration for providing states with resources to improve transportation infrastructure and also our Congressional delegation for their continued advocacy and support."
"This is a big deal for South Boston and a big step forward towards making Massachusetts the nation's leader in high speed rail," said Senator John Kerry.
"Today's announcement of $32.5 million in federal funds is a victory for Massachusetts commuters that will position our transportation system for the future and put people to work on a critically needed infrastructure project. Governor Patrick, Lieutenant Governor Murray and our delegation in Congress teamed to make the case for federal funding for the South Station expansion, and I look forward to the increase in convenience and ridership that it will produce in the future," said Congressman Ed Markey.
"The importance of this project cannot be overstated for rail passengers throughout the Northeast. South Station is a once in a century project that is central to expanding the region's passenger rail network," said Congressman John Olver. "This funding ensures that future generations of Northeast passengers will continue to have access to efficient rail service."
"South Station is an integral part of the public transportation system in Massachusetts with many commuters passing through on any given day. These federal funds will be used to upgrade this asset by adding tracks to accommodate more trains and further enhance the station. As a result, commuters will have more options to reach their jobs, homes and other destinations," said Congressman Mike Capuano.
"Improving our high-speed rail system is essential to improving our economy," said Congressman Jim McGovern. "I'm particularly pleased that we're continuing to make progress on improving service to Worcester."
"The Governor deserves credit for his strong advocacy on behalf of this grant application. He personally called US DOT Secretary LaHood to discuss the benefits of South Station's expansion," said MassDOT Transportation Secretary Jeffrey Mullan. "This round of funding is a great validation of the Governor's and Lieutenant Governor's commitment to rail and vision for the future. The coordination that they have championed is reaping benefits for all of New England."
The South Station High Speed Rail Project will construct seven new station tracks, expanding South Station capacity from 13 to 20 tracks, and reconfigure three critical track interlockings. In the long term, the South Station project will provide for excess capacity to allow further service expansion beyond those currently planned for Amtrak and commuter rail.
The successful South Station Project application under the High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program follows earlier successful grant applications by the Patrick-Murray Administration and other New England states.
In January 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded Massachusetts $70 million for final design and construction of the "Knowledge Corridor" along the Connecticut River rail line in western Massachusetts. The project will rehabilitate the existing Connecticut River rail line which runs from Connecticut, through Massachusetts to Vermont. Once completed, Amtrak Vermonter service will be rerouted to the line providing a more direct route, faster service and restored access to the cities of Northampton and Greenfield. The Vermonter will make stops at the former Amtrak station in Northampton and the new ARRA-funded intermodal transit center in Greenfield.
The Knowledge Corridor award was part of $485 million in stimulus funds from grants announced prior to today that will be invested to improve rail lines in the Northeast Corridor through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program. A total of $160 million was given to Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut to improve rail service between New Haven, Springfield and St. Albans, $35 million was awarded to Maine to restore rail service between Portland and Brunswick as part of the popular Downeaster service which begins in Massachusetts and $112 million to fund improvements along the Boston to Washington DC corridor.
In July 2009, Governor Patrick and all New England Governors announced plans to work together on a coordinated regional vision for high speed rail that will connect major cities and airports, and support economic growth throughout the region. The Vision for the New England High Speed and Intercity Rail Network lays out key projects to strengthen passenger and freight rail service along new and existing rail corridors, with the goal of doubling passenger rail ridership in the Northeast by 2030.
MassDOT is the new, unified transportation organization created in 2009 under the historic reform legislation passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Patrick. MassDOT's four divisions are focused on delivering safe and efficient transportation services across the Commonwealth.