Monday, March 5, 2012

Funds Cleared for Hoosac Tunnel Clearance Project

Olver, Kerry, Brown, Neal: Massachusetts Awarded $2 Million to Initiate Improvements Needed to Expand Freight Rail Service Into New England

WASHINGTON, D.C. – 3/2/2012 - Today, Congressman John W. Olver, along with Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown and Congressman Richard Neal, announced that the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has been awarded $2 million to initiate the work necessary to allow double-stack intermodal trains along Pan Am Southern’s Patriot Corridor, a critical first step toward improving and expanding freight rail intermodal service into New England.

This award allows MassDOT, in partnership with Pan Am Southern, to begin the preliminary engineering, design, and environmental assessment work necessary to remove 19 vertical clearance obstructions that prevent double-stack intermodal rail service into New England along the 155-mile Patriot Corridor. Improvements to this line were highlighted as a priority in MassDOT’s 2010 State Rail Plan because of the estimated high return on investment.

As part of this work, MassDOT will move forward with plans to increase the clearance in the Hoosac Tunnel, a 4.75-mile tunnel first constructed in 1875, that has acted as a significant impediment to efficient freight rail travel along the corridor.

“These federal dollars leverage $87.5 million in private investment along the Patriot Corridor and allow Massachusetts to move forward with its efforts to increase and expand freight rail traffic, an effort that has been constrained by low vertical clearances along this critical corridor,” said Congressman Olver. “The addition of freight capacity helps improve roadway safety, decrease the number of trucks on our roadways, and encourages economic development both in the region and across New England.”

“On behalf of the Patrick-Murray Administration, I thank our Congressional partners for helping secure these funds,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey. “The improvements we will make to the tunnel are necessary for adding additional freight service in this corridor. We know that a reliable, efficient transportation system is critical the economic health of the Commonwealth and the region.”

“This is a big deal in expanding freight capacity along the Patriot Corridor.  It’s a boost to the regional economy and ultimately helps free up over-burdened and congested roads,” said Senator John Kerry.

“Improving the Patriot Corridor will promote economic development while providing increased transportation alternatives for the New England region,” said Senator Scott Brown. “I am proud that the Patriot Corridor project received this award and look forward to helping make this interstate collaboration a reality in the coming years.”

"As a strong advocate of rail transportation throughout New England, I am very pleased that this federal investment will help improve service along the Mohawk Trail. The 155 mile Patriot Corridor is an important intermodal freight rail route that connects the Albany and Greater Boston markets. These improvements will significantly improve rail infrastructure, expand capacity on the route and increase train speed. It's another major step forward in our efforts to improve rail transportation in the region," said Congressman Richard E. Neal.

The FRA Rail Line Relocation Grant Improvement Program assists projects that improve community livability and promote economic development by addressing the effects of rail traffic on safety, roadway and pedestrian traffic, overall quality of life and local area commerce. Funding for these grants has been made available through appropriations and requires a 10 percent contribution from the project sponsor.  Since FY 2008, Congress has appropriated a total of $90,104,200 for the Rail Line Relocation Grant Improvement Program.

** For more information, contact: Cyndi Roy, MassDOT, 617-973-8472 **

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