BOSTON – MassDOT Secretary & CEO Richard A. Davey was joined today by local officials to break ground on the new Wachusett Commuter Rail Station in West Fitchburg. The Wachusett Extension project will extend the Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line 4.5 miles westerly to a new station at Wachusett in West Fitchburg, conveniently located in close proximity to Route 2 at Route 31. The project will also construct a new train Layover Facility in Westminster.
“One of my goals at MassDOT has been to improve transportation options for the entire Commonwealth,” said MassDOT Secretary & CEO Richard A. Davey. “Bringing the Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line farther west and increasing parking capacity will give customers more options for access into Boston and other points east.”
This Federal Transit Administration (FTA) ARRA-TIGER funded project will help to improve mass transit options to the communities west of Fitchburg, improve the region’s economy by reducing the commute time from the Montachusett Region to the Boston area job market, increase the supply of commuter rail parking for riders in the western part of the region, and improve the operation and capacity of the Fitchburg Line train Layover Facility.
“The Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line has the oldest infrastructure in the MBTA system; it also is the longest and serves a region with limited commuter options. That is why it has been so critical that federal, state and local partners – with Congressman John Olver leading the charge – have come together to enable substantial improvements to the Fitchburg Line, including double tracking along the line, construction of a new Littleton train station, and an extension of the line to a new commuter rail station at Wachusett,” said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. “These smart improvements will shorten commute times to Boston and improve and expand service for tens of thousands of commuters, while also rebuilding our infrastructure and creating jobs in the short and long term.”
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) will operate the passenger train service to Wachusett as an extension of the current Fitchburg Line service. The project consists of a new Wachusett Station, a new Westminster Layover Facility, and upgrades to the existing rail line to accommodate the commuter rail service.
“Expanding our service area and improving our customers’ experience is a win-win in my book,” said Dr. Beverly Scott, General Manager of the MBTA. “I am looking forward to seeing Wachusett Commuter Rail Station serve the people in the Fitchburg area and beyond.”
The new Wachusett Station will consist of a new, fully-accessible, 800 foot long high-level platform located on a new station track siding, off the main line, which will allow direct platform-to-coach boarding without occupying the main line tracks. A new 360 space parking lot, to be operated by the Montachusett Regional Transit Authority (MART), will include a drop-off area for cars and buses and electric vehicle charging stations. The station will include passenger shelters, benches and windscreens, signage, variable message signs, and lighting.
“The Wachusett Extension Project is an exciting step forward as we work to not only improve but actually create traveling options to so many of our communities west of Fitchburg,” said State Senator Jen Flanagan. “Upon completion, this ambitious undertaking will provide more convenient access to Boston for jobs and leisure, more parking and improved operational capabilities.”
The new Westminster Layover Facility, for overnight storage of commuter rail trains, will replace the existing Fitchburg Line Layover Facility in Lunenburg. The Layover Facility will have 6 train storage tracks, employee parking area, maintenance building, electrical substation, lighting, and fencing.
Contracts totaling $26.7 million have been awarded to S&R Construction to complete the project. The current schedule calls for construction to be substantially complete by the end of 2014, with initial commuter rail service commencing after completion of construction.