© 2024
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Agreement Reached On High Speed Rail Project

By Paul Tuthill


Springfield, MA – The US Department of Transportation has awarded a 73 million dollar grant to upgrade the railroad line parallel to the Connecticut River in Massachusetts. It means work should start later this year on the Massachusetts portion of a project to bring high speed passenger rail service between New Haven Connecticut and St. Albans Vermont. WAMC's Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.

The New England regional railroad projects were awarded federal stimulus money in January of 2010, but before the dollars could be released agreements needed to be hammered out among the federal and state transportation authorities and the track owner, Pan Am Southern Railways. The agreement in Massachusetts was announced late last week. Timothy Brennan, executive director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission says nothing is standing in the way of the work now
Brennan says the rail project will create economic development opportunities for the Pioneer Valley through more cost effective transporation.
Work on the Vermont and Connecticut portions of the high speed rail project is already underway. In Massachusetts, the project entail replacing deteriorated railroad track, ties and switches and upgrading the crossings for fifty miles. Dana Roscoe, a principal planner with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission says only freight trains use the line now, with speeds reduced to ten miles an hour in places..
The work in Massachusetts is expected to take two years to complete. Roscoe says it will cut a half an hour off the travel time for Amtrak's Vermonter train and bring service directly to Holyoke, Northampton and Greenfield.
With the planning work done for the north-south transportation improvements, Roscoe is eyeing other projects
Planners envision a renovated Union Station in downtown Springfield as the hub for this expanded transportation network 400 thousand dollars was recently awarded to the city by the EPA to help rid the derelict building of contaminants. Before it can be turned into a modern hub for trains and intercity buses, , old underground storage tanks and other pollutants must be removed, according to Eva Tor, a deputy director with the Mass. Department of Environmental Protection.
The Springfield Redevelopment Authority has hired a project manager and a designer for Union Station and officials hope to begin construction in 2012.