PATRICK-MURRAY ADMINISTRATION CELEBRATES GROUNDBREAKING FOR HISTORIC NEW BEDFORD RAIL BRIDGES PROJECT
First Federal Stimulus TIGER Grant Completed in U.S. Boosts South Coast Rail, Freight Rail, and Job Creation
"This is a historic moment for New Bedford and the future of freight and passenger rail in the region," said Governor Deval Patrick. "I am pleased that our grant application was not only successful, but the first in the nation to be completed and I want to thank the FRA for their commitment and cooperation. The results of this project will be immediate and permanent jobs, better freight service and a vision of intercity rail service that will become a reality."
"By partnering with our congressional delegation and local officials, our Administration continues to make significant progress towards making commuter rail expansion a reality in the Commonwealth," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. "In addition to the historic agreement with CSX and the recently awarded funding to support design for South Station's expansion, today marks another milestone as we stay on course to enhance freight and passenger rail in the Southcoast region."
The three structurally-deficient freight rail bridges are more than 100 years old and allow maximum train speeds of only 5 miles per hour. Currently, these bridges are only used for freight operations, but the reconstruction of the bridges will also advance the South Coast Rail project. Rebuilding the Deane Street, Sawyer Street, and Coggeshall Street Bridges and widening roads below will improve traffic flow, enhance freight operations, and support future passenger rail for the region. This project represents the first construction - scheduled for completion in early 2012 - that will directly advance the South Coast Rail project.
"Barney Frank and I have been working overtime with the Patrick Administration to move forward on the South Coast rail initiative and this is a big shot in the arm. It means creating good jobs right here and right now with a big long term pay-off in infrastructure," said Senator John Kerry.
"Repairing these bridges is the first concrete step towards bringing commuter rail to the South Coast," said Congressman Barney Frank. "This is a declaration by the federal government that South Coast Commuter Rail will be a reality, and I continue to work with Governor Patrick and Mayor Lang to push this project forward."
"This is a key step in our goal of a world-class South Coast Rail project," said Congressman James McGovern. "Safe, reliable and efficient rail service is essential to our future economic development."
"The Governor and Lieutenant Governor have shown an unwavering commitment and real passion for pursuing transportation enhancements that will enhance freight rail and expand commuter options across the Commonwealth," said Jeffrey Mullan, Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary & CEO.
In addition to the $20 million in competitive stimulus TIGER funds awarded to Massachusetts for this project, the Commonwealth also acquired 30 miles of track run from Cotley Junction in Taunton to Fall River and New Bedford through an agreement reached between the Patrick-Murray Administration and CSX Transportation. Most recently, Massachusetts was awarded more than $160 million in federal funding for rail expansion in the Commonwealth, including a $32.5 million grant to support the design phase of the Boston South Station expansion project which will also support the South Coast Rail Project.
"Partnerships are going to be essential to the completion of the South Coast Rail project. The disregard for this region and lack of cooperation from prior administrations has made the road to this point much steeper to climb. The federal government investing in the long overdue repair of bridges is a first step that is not only symbolic, but will put people to work and get us one step closer to commuter rail service," said Senator Montigny.
"These bridge projects and the jobs they will create underline the commitment Governor Patrick, Lieutenant Governor Murray and Congressman Frank have to the South Coast Rail Project. This is the first step to reconnecting the South Coast with Boston and improving freight rail options for New Bedford's businesses," said Representative Antonio D. Cabral.
"South Coast Rail will bring New Bedford a renewed prosperity," said Mayor Scott W. Lang. "We have kicked off the construction phase of the project with the beginning of the bridge reconstruction. The replacement of these three bridges will bring immediate jobs to the City, improve freight rail transportation in the region, and pave the way for the South Coast Rail."