Patrick-Murray Administration, U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood, Congressman Olver Kick off Wachusett Commuter Rail Extension Project
FITCHBURG - Monday, October 18, 2010 - As part of the Patrick- Murray Administration's Massachusetts Recovery Plan to enhance economic development and create jobs by strengthening public transit and rail service, Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray joined U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Congressman John Olver today to announce the groundbreaking for the $55.5 million Wachusett Commuter Rail Extension Project.
The project is funded by a federal stimulus Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant. The work will extend the Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line by 4.5 miles to a brand new Wachusett commuter rail station. The project also includes track improvements to support freight and passenger rail and a new layover facility.
"Thanks to the Recovery Act, we're investing $55.5 million to extend commuter rail service and unlock economic opportunities for people across Massachusetts," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "This is great news for the region's economy and the thousands of Massachusetts commuters who will benefit from a faster, safer, more reliable, and more comfortable ride."
"Right now, trying to get into Boston from the north, west or south of Fitchburg is a challenge," said Congressman Olver. "Route 2 is gridlocked during prime commute times, and it can be difficult to find parking and to drive to some of the stations along the line. Once built, this station will be in a prime location for commuters to quickly get off Route 2 and onto a train within minutes. The hardest part of the workday shouldn't be getting to the office."
"We have leveraged the federal stimulus funds received through the strong advocacy of the Obama Administration, Secretary LaHood, and Congressman Olver, and along with our record state investments we are rebuilding roads and bridges and expanding public transit options for thousands of citizens across the Commonwealth," said Governor Deval Patrick.
"I wish to thank Secretary LaHood and Congressman Olver for their support as we make historic investments in freight and commuter rail in Fitchburg and across our state," said Lieutenant Governor Murray. "It is gratifying to see commuter rail service expanded for commuters in this area."
Ridership on the Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line between Boston and Fitchburg has grown steadily since 2004. Growing ridership and at capacity parking facilities have influenced the service extension. It is estimated that the facility will service over 400 new commuter rail passengers in 2012, and divert 824 vehicle trips from Route 2.
The Wachusett extension project will improve the region's economy by reducing the commute time from communities west of Fitchburg to the Boston area job market increasing the desirability of living in the region. Additional "reverse commute" options offer an opportunity for workers along the corridor to access employment centers in the region, including the 231 Industrial Park in Fitchburg.
"Expanding commuter rail and other transit options is a top priority of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, and the enhancements on the busy Fitchburg Line is the latest example of taking action to make this goal a reality," said MassDOT Transportation Secretary and CEO Jeffrey Mullan.
"This project is a smart investment that will provide the region with more transportation options,” said MBTA General Manager Rich Davey. "In addition to enhancing service for existing customers, improvements to the Fitchburg Line will ultimately attract new riders that will find the service to meet their transportation needs.”
"I'm very excited that Secretary LaHood will be here to commemorate this very special occasion," said State Senator Jennifer Flanagan. "Improvement of the Commuter Rail line has been a top priority; the addition of the Wachusett Station comes at no better of a time, while we are in the midst of making upgrades east of Fitchburg. I can not thank Lieutenant Governor Murray and MART enough for their leadership and dedication to this project."
"This transportation infrastructure project will create a modern and cost efficient layover facility and is a major opportunity for economic growth for businesses in our industrial parks, said Representative Stephen L. DiNatale. "I believe the Wachusett Station will have a positive effect on the future of the Montachusetts region's economic and residential growth. In the long run this station will create and retain jobs, and improve transit between the region and the Boston job market."
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.
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