New Starts Grant Upgrades State’s Longest Commuter Rail Line
LITTLETON -- Monday, October 24, 2011-- Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Secretary Richard Davey today joined Congressman John Olver, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, and Federal Transit Authority (FTA) Administrator Peter Rogoff in Littleton to officially announce $75 million in FTA New Starts funding for the Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line Improvement Project.
“This investment in the Fitchburg Line will reduce travel times for commuters, while expanding service to underserved regions of the Commonwealth,” said Governor Deval Patrick.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) along with the Montachusett Regional Transit Authority, are making extensive improvements to modernize the Fitchburg Rail Line and provide greatly improved service and reliability to riders and commuters in the 50-mile long corridor from Fitchburg to Boston.
“As we continue to improve passenger rail service, upgrades to the Fitchburg Line will make a real difference for commuters while also enhancing opportunities for regional economic growth, “said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray.
The Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line Improvement Project is a $159 million project including the $75 million federal New Starts Program grant with state matching funds, creating 260 jobs. The work will include the installation of new switches and signals as well as two new renovated stations and the reconstruction of existing track on the state's oldest commuter rail line, serving 17 communities at 18 rail stations.
“I am very proud to have played a role in this project. The work that will be completed in the next three years will allow for improved and increased freight and passenger activity along the longest and most antiquated commuter rail line in Massachusetts,” said Congressman Olver. “These days, it has become popular to criticize public investment in projects like this, but the truth of the matter is that public infrastructure investments expand our national economy’s long-term productive capacity. Investments like this increase the overall size of the economic pie so that the public and private sectors can expand together on a complimentary, mutually-supportive growth path,” Olver said.
“The improvements being made to the Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line will decrease commute times and improve service while creating nearly 300 new jobs,” said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. “This project, which includes double tracking along the line, construction of a new Littleton train station, and the addition of new parking for commuters, is an excellent example of federal, state, and local partners working cooperatively.”
“With the support of the Patrick-Murray Administration and the Congressional Delegation, investments to the Fitchburg Commuter Rail corridor remain on track,” said Secretary Davey.
“Improvements to the Fitchburg commuter rail line are vital to ensuring customers have access to service that is modern and reliable,” said MBTA Acting General Manager Jon Davis.
"Improving service on the Fitchburg line and reducing commuting time for constituents using the Shirley, Littleton, Ayer and South Acton train stations has been a top priority of mine since I first entered the Legislature in 2002, said Senator James B. Eldridge. "These improvements will foster economic development in the area, and make using the commuter rail a faster, more pleasant experience for my constituents."
"Today symbolizes many, many years of hard work and dedication to this project," said Senator Jennifer Flanagan. "We wouldn't be at this point in the process without the leadership of Congressman Olver and Lieutenant Governor Murray. I am personally thankful to both of them for their commitment to this project. Massachusetts cannot continue to be successful without meaningful investments in our transportation infrastructure."
Funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are also supporting a double track project as part of the overall effort to improve the Fitchburg Line and reduce travel times.