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Massachusetts Department of Transporatation Massachusetts Bay Transporatation Authority
Northern New England Intercity Rail Initiative

Construction

Freight Improvement Program

Freight service in Massachusetts has been expanding and is expected to grow significantly over the coming years. This is especially true in the South Coast region, where major roadway connections are limited and overburdened. Freight connections that serve the port areas need to be improved to accommodate future growth in harbor and waterfront areas as well as industrial and business parks. Because these freight rail lines will one day carry commuter trains – from South Station to Fall River and New Bedford – MassDOT advanced substantial track repairs and upgrades. In the short term, the region will benefit from expanded freight capacity; in the longer term, the improvements will benefit future passenger service.

MassDOT's freight improvements will enhance operations and allow for increased speeds along the Fall River and New Bedford freight lines. Faster and more reliable service will make freight rail an efficient, viable transportation option for many businesses located in the region. Businesses outside of Southeastern Massachusetts will also be more likely to use rail to ship merchandise and commodities.

A series of upgrades to the Fall River Secondary and New Bedford Main Line concluded in 2015, but MassDOT's Rail and Transit Division continues its State of Good Repair efforts in the region to support existing freight and prepare for future commuter rail service.

Recent and current upgrades to the South Coast region's freight services include:

  • Reconstruction of Wharf Yard in Fall River in early 2017 with new track work, improved drainage and security fencing.
  • Upgrades to vehicular grade crossings in Lakeville, Taunton, and Freetown as part of the FHWA Section 130 Grade Crossing Safety Program. These upgrades were completed in December 2017.
  • Ongoing work on the Attleboro Secondary, the New Bedford Secondary, and the Middleborough Main Line, which will be completed at the end of spring 2018. So far, approximately 40,000 new railroad ties have been installed, 2,000 tons of scrap ties have been collected and disposed, 6,000 tons of ballast stone have been distributed, and 4 miles of track and ballast work have been completed.

MassDOT has also upgraded ten grade crossings in the Southern Triangle (including portions of Lakeville, Freetown, Fall River and New Bedford) in an effort to prepare the region for commuter rail service.

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