What officials said is the final piece of funding for a major transportation project in western Massachusetts was announced today in Springfield.
Massachusetts is committing the remaining funds needed to complete the redevelopment of Union Station in Springfield into an intermodal regional transportation hub. It brings the total amount of federal, state, and local funds for the project to $88.5 million.
Mass. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announced an additional $12 million for the project will come from MassDOT and the state’s Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. It brings the total of committed state funding to nearly $40 million.
" We could not be happier to invest these dollars. We know an investment in Springfield is something you will leverage and stretch," she said.
Polito made the announcement at Union Station as construction work continued nearby.
Work on the project to completely renovate the 90-year-old train station, which was closed to the public in 1973, started in 2012 during the administration of former Gov. Deval Patrick. Polito said the Baker administration wants to see the project through because Springfield is strategically situated at the transportation crossroads of New England.
The new Union Station when it opens late next year will be ready to accommodate up to two dozen additional daily trains connecting to Hartford and New Haven, where there is Metro- North service to New York City, according to Dana Roscoe, a transportation expert with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.
Studies have been commissioned to determine the feasibility of commuter train service between Springfield and Boston.
The redevelopment of Union Station has been a priority of Congressman Richad Neal since he was mayor of Springfield in the 1980s.
" I would come through here as a child. It was a thriving transportation hub for western Massachusetts," Neal recalled.
Neal secured $43 million, most of it through earmarks, for the project.
"The public side of this is coming to a conclusion. Now,we need to spur on some private investment," said Neal.
The project to redevelopment Union Station was unveiled in 2008 with a price tag of $65 million. Officials blame the more than $23 million increase since then on unforeseen construction problems due to the age of the building.
The project may not be on the original budget, but it is on time, according to Christopher Moskal, executive director of the Springfield Redevelopment Authority which owns Union Station.
" We are on time ," said Moskal. " The garage is fully underway. As of the announcement today you will see the entire restoration of the interior and exterior of terminal building underway in the next two weeks. We are moving toward an opening in October 2016,"
The new Union Station will have 66,000 square feet of commercial space for lease, a 26-bay bus terminal, a completely renovated terminal building, a new rail boarding platform, and a six-level parking garage. Officials say the new facility will support 200 permanent jobs.