BOSTON - Tuesday, April 5, 2011 - The Patrick-Murray Administration today announced that it has submitted a formal application for $98.4 million in federal High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail funds for the replacement of a critical rail bridge in Haverhill serving Amtrak "Downeaster" service between Boston and Portland, Maine and the MBTA commuter rail Haverhill Line. If approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Railroad Administration, the grant would fund the final design and replacement of the bridge, expanding service and enhancing on-time performance for both Amtrak regional and commuter rail service.
"The Haverhill bridge project would represent another dramatic step toward improved high-speed and intercity rail service in the Commonwealth and across New England," said Transportation Secretary and CEO Jeffrey Mullan, "Our application for these funds is being submitted in close cooperation with our regional partners and their own applications for projects that will improve rail service across the Northeast."
The Merrimack River Bridge replacement application was made under the High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program, and follows earlier successful grant applications by Massachusetts and other New England states for rail project funds. Additional funds became available under the program when other states decided not to participate.
The Patrick-Murray Administration also joined the Coalition of Northeastern Governors (CONEG), in sending a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood expressing collective support a set of rail infrastructure projects being submitted by nine states, the District of Columbia, and Amtrak for the recently available high speed intercity passenger rail grant funds.
The projects are critical building blocks for expanded, higher speed and next generation intercity passenger rail service and will create jobs now and sustained economic growth in cities and towns throughout the region. The grant application submitted by the April 4 deadline includes "shovel ready" construction projects, such as the Haverhill bridge replacement in Massachusetts, along with double tracking and track expansion and power and signal upgrades that can be implemented quickly.
In January 2010, the Patrick-Murray Administration announced the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded $70 million in High Speed Rail federal Recovery Act funds for final design and construction of the Knowledge Corridor along the Connecticut River rail line in western Massachusetts. The $70 million grant award was part of $485 million in Recovery Act funds invested to improve rail lines in the Northeast Corridor.
Governor Patrick joined New England Governors in July 2009 to announce plans to work together on a coordinated regional vision for high speed rail that will connect major cities and airports, and support economic growth throughout the region. The Vision for the New England High Speed and Intercity Rail Network lays out key projects to strengthen passenger and freight rail service along new and existing rail corridors. The goal is to double passenger rail ridership in the Northeast by 2030.
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