PATRICK, MURRAY, CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION ANNOUNCE FEDERAL STIMULUS HIGH-SPEED RAIL FUNDS AWARDED TO KNOWLEDGE CORRIDOR PROJECT
Competitive Grant Award Funds Historic Upgrade of Connecticut River Line
The project, with a total budget of $75.6 million, 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 at Northampton and the new ARRA-funded intermodal transit center in Greenfield. The project will create an estimated 626 jobs during construction and 155 permanent jobs by the 5 th full year of operation.
"This is exceptional news," said Governor Patrick. "The Knowledge Corridor is a cornerstone of our vision for regional rail and regional economic growth. This $70 million will support long-awaited improvements, create jobs and restore access to cities in the Pioneer Valley. Thanks to wonderful teamwork with our neighboring states and the advocacy of our congressional delegation, especially Congressman Olver, the Obama Administration recognized the project's strong potential, and the powerful impact it will have on our economy. I couldn't be more thrilled or more grateful."
"This is a historic day for passenger and freight rail in Massachusetts," says Lieutenant Governor Murray. "Together with the CSX deal and additional ARRA investments in our commuter rail system we are strengthening rail service in every corner of the Commonwealth."
"High speed rail means jobs. This investment will create immediate jobs in western Mass, provide an alternative means of travel for commuters along the I91 corridor in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont, and cut pollution. By investing in essential high speed rail projects like those in the Knowledge Corridor, we're ensuring that Massachusetts remains open for business and our nation's outdated and underfunded passenger rail is transformed into a world-class system," said Senator Kerry.
"High-speed rail funding in the stimulus is the most important transportation initiative since the Eisenhower interstate highway system. This project represents a significant investment in the region. Not only will it spur job creation, but it will also provide an alternative transit option for commuters along the densely-populated I-91 corridor," said Congressman John Olver.
"This is extraordinary good news western Massachusetts. The high speed rail line will literally transform transportation in the 'Transportation Corridor.' It is an investment in the future and will create jobs and help rebuild the economy. With north to south rail now a reality, I will continue my support for east to west commuter line," said Congressman Richard E. Neal.
The $70 million competitive grant award is part of $485 million in stimulus funds 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 in the Boston to Washington DC corridor.
MassDOT's Rail & Transit Division will oversee the Knowledge Corridor project construction which is expected to take approximately two years and begin during the 2010 construction season.
"As we celebrate this award we should acknowledge the critical partnership we have formed with the New England states and Amtrak," said MassDOT Secretary & CEO Jeff Mullan. "Without their participation and support, these project awards would not have been possible."
In April 2009, the Obama Administration and U.S. Department of Transportation announced a plan to identify $8 billion in federal stimulus ARRA funds for High-Speed and Intercity Rail, supported by additional federal transportation funds. Future additional rounds of applications for funding are expected.
Governor Patrick and all New England Governors in July 2009 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. The goal is to double passenger rail ridership in the Northeast by 2030.
The New England Governors directed their transportation chiefs to meet regularly with the New England Congressional delegation and work to advance their rail initiatives with coordinated applications for high speed rail grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), while also pursuing other federal funding opportunities. The next regional meeting is scheduled for February 11 in Portland, ME.