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Could $100 Million Rail Deal Jump Start Worcester’s Economy?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

 

Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray released a progress report on Monday outlining the progress Massachusetts has made on its rail network thanks to the state's agreement with national railway carrier CSX.

“Transportation is the enabling network of our economy – it’s about getting people and businesses from one location to another,” Murray said.

“I have worked closely with many critical partners and stakeholders to advance the CSX agreement and invest in improved freight and commuter rail service. This progress report outlines how our rail system is evolving across the state, and simultaneously highlights the need to have continued conversations to enhance economic and community development in impacted regions.”

Expanding Rail Lines

The first phase of the project was finalized in June of 2010, and the second closing is set to take place in early October of this year.

For a final price tag of $100 million, the Commonwealth will receive 45 miles of track on the Framingham-Worcester commuter rail line, connecting New England's second-largest city to its first, and 37 miles of rail lines running from Taunton to Fall River and New Bedford, as well as several other short spurs in the Boston area.

The Lieutenant Governor has been working on the CSX deal since his time as Mayor of Worcester. Murray led negotiations with the rail carrier with the backing of Governor Deval Patrick, Senator John Kerry and Congressman Jim McGovern.

“Expanded commuter rail service is beneficial for economic development, job growth, and the business community, and a huge quality of life improvement for residents in the Greater Worcester area," McGovern said.

"For businesses looking to attract more talent from Metrowest and Boston; for developers looking at new affordable alternatives to Boston; and for current or future residents looking to commute to the east, more trains are a critical improvement."

Those new tracks will enable the addition of seven commuter rail trains from Central Mass to Boston, bringing the total number of daily roundtrips up to 20.

Public Transit Pays

As part of the deal with CSX, the rail carrier's freight operations currently in Boston will also be relocated to rail yards in Worcester, Westborough and West Springfield.

The rail yard construction in Worcester has already generated 400 jobs during its construction phase, and 80 more long-term positions are expected once the facility is operational.

According to the American Public Transportation Association, every dollar invested in public transportation yields roughly four dollars in economic returns.

With the state's $100 million investment, communities could be poised to realize large gains in employment and economic activity at every stop along the expanded rail lines.

Since taking office in 2007, improving the state’s transportation infrastructure has been a key priority of both Murray and Governor Deval Patrick.

The administration has invested nearly $1 billion in the state’s rail system through competitive grants, public funds and private development as part of the Massachusetts State Rail Plan.

 

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