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Massachusetts To Receive almost $1.8 Million to Improve Rail Infrastructure, Enhance Safety, and increase Train Capacity on key Western MA Corridor 

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is pleased to announce the Biden Administration has awarded almost $1.8 million to the state to improve rail infrastructure, enhance safety, and improve train capacity in Western Massachusetts near Springfield Union Station. MassDOT applied for this funding late last year under the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant program.  Thirty-one other states are also receiving CRISI grant program funding under awards announced on Thursday, June 2.

“We are grateful to federal officials and the Massachusetts Congressional delegation for supporting the MassDOT CRISI grant application for the Springfield Area Track Reconfiguration Project which will improve operational efficiency, reduce travel times, improve passenger accessibility for intercity passenger rail services, and reduce freight and passenger rail conflicts on corridors in the Springfield area,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Jamey Tesler.  “This grant money willfund preliminary engineering and environmental evaluation of this project to ultimately improve existing passenger and freight services and support future growth.”

“I worked hard in Congress to ensure that President Biden’s infrastructure plan passed so that projects like these here in western and central Massachusetts would become a reality,” said Congressman Richard E. Neal, Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means. “The funding coming to Springfield Union Station and the surrounding rail lines will ensure that we are ready to handle more trains north/south, and especially east/west. I look forward to celebrating more good news of this kind as we continue to allocate this historic federal infrastructure package.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren added, “Union Station is a vital hub for Springfield, and this federal funding from the Biden Administration will help reduce travel times and make much-needed infrastructure improvements in western Massachusetts. Our ultimate goal is to fully connect Boston and Springfield with East-West rail, and this investment is a step forward towards making that a reality.” 

“I am proud to have worked with the Massachusetts Congressional delegation to help secure this critical funding to improve rail infrastructure in Hampden County,” said Senator Edward J. Markey. “The Springfield Area Track Reconfiguration Project will increase safety, efficiency, and accessibility for freight and passenger rail service in Western Massachusetts and represents a necessary step toward making East-West passenger rail a reality in our Commonwealth. I’m committed to partnering with Secretary Tesler, Governor Baker, the Biden Administration, our state and federal legislative delegations, and other regional stakeholders to secure the funding necessary to expand safe, accessible rail service throughout Springfield and Western Massachusetts.”

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts will use the approximately $1.8 million in grant money for many Springfield Union Station area upgrades, including track, signal, and infrastructure improvements.  MassDOT will provide a 50 percent match. Funds will also go toward additional platforms, additional crossover tracks, storage tracks, a new layover facility, and other work that will support the Amtrak Springfield Line, the CSX Boston Albany Line, and small segments of the former Armory Branch and Knowledge Corridor.  Improvements to be made with the funding also support future East-West passenger rail service, should state legislators, state officials and other stakeholders decide to take necessary steps with plans to provide service between Albany and Boston. 

Meanwhile, MassDOT filed a second application for a pre-Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funding round of the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program through the USDOT Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) seeking $12 million for safety and other improvements along the Knowledge Corridor which runs parallel to the Connecticut River in Western Massachusetts.  Amtrak Police data indicates the highest number of calls for service and incidents within the New England Division occur on the Knowledge Corridor Rail Line. This project would provide critical safety improvements, including fiber-optic cable, fencing, radio bases, aerial and ground surveillance, CCTV cameras, and blue light stations. The project would also support the development of a real-time Amtrak surveillance center at Springfield’s Union Station.  This application has not been approved. 

The BIL authorized approximately 35 discretionary, competitive grant programs to be administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) over 5 years, with total funding more than $110 billion. The first round of the Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant (MDPG) Opportunity, had an application deadline of May 23, 2022, and MassDOT made several application submissions.

MassDOT and its partners have submitted grant applications for the following capital investment projects:

  • Bourne and Sagamore Bridge Replacement: MassDOT has been actively working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to provide the technical expertise necessary to prepare the Corps’ application for federal INFRA and MEGA funding to replace the federally owned Bourne and Sagamore Bridges, which provide the only roadway connection on and off Cape Cod for the 263,000 residents of the Cape and Islands, as well as the 5 million annual visitors. The project has a total estimated cost of $3.976 billion and would replace both bridges and improve the adjoining roadway network. MassDOT has been collaborating closely with members of Massachusetts’ delegation and the USACE to ensure that federal discretionary funding is available and sought to replace the federally owned bridges, while continuing to ensure that other infrastructure needs across the Commonwealth can likewise be prioritized and addressed for competitive grant opportunities.  MassDOT’s INFRA and MEGA grant applications filed today, seek a total of $1.113 billion for USACE project needs.
  • Allston Multimodal Project: MassDOT and the City of Boston are co-applicants for a MEGA grant seeking $1.191 billion for this project, (which has a total project cost estimated to be $1.985 billion).  The project is an opportunity to dramatically improve livability and connectivity for residents of the Allston neighborhood in Boston while preserving and enhancing regional mobility through improvements to I-90 and its abutting interchange and the creation of a new passenger rail stop on the Worcester/Framingham MBTA Commuter Line to be known as West Station.  The MBTA also intends to file for BIL funding for rail needs regarding the Allston Multimodal Project. 
  • Schell Pedestrian Bridge in Northfield: MassDOT has filed a RURAL grant application seeking $24.5 million for this project which would replace a historic bicycle, pedestrian, and snowmobile bridge over the Connecticut River in Northfield.  The total project cost is estimated to be $60.6 million.

The Baker-Polito Administration has been seeking funding for infrastructure projects from many sources, including municipalities which are in the project areas and from state government resources.  In March, the Administration filed an infrastructure bond bill, “An Act Relative to Massachusetts’s Transportation Resources and Climate,” (MassTRAC), which would authorize state matching funds and tools necessary to compete for, unlock and leverage federal investments in transportation and environmental infrastructure from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.  This bill is pending approval now in the Massachusetts Legislature. 

Provisions of MassTRAC would enable MassDOT and the MBTA to use certain project procurement and delivery tools that could speed the implementation of BIL funded projects, as well as regular project delivery. MassDOT and the MBTA would be authorized to pilot the A + B procurement method to allow the time to complete a project to be considered in bid evaluation and award. Additionally, Private Development Mitigation/Transit Oriented Development authorization would allow MassDOT and the MBTA to enter into development agreements that include transportation and other public benefits without having to separately bid for those elements.  For more information on MassTRAC, please visit: https://www.mass.gov/news/baker-polito-administration-files-97-billion-infrastructure-bond-bill

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