Massachusetts commuter rail project clears funding, permit hurdles

South Coast Rail project will extend MBTA service to New Bedford, Fall River
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Inbound and outbound trains on the MBTA's Middlesborough/Lakeville line meet in Braintree, Mass., in 2010. A project to extend the line to New Bedford and Fall River, Mass., has cleared major funding and permitting hurdles.
Scott A. Hartley

BOSTON — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has committed more than $1 billion in state bond funding for the South Coast Rail project, clearing a major financial hurdle in the effort to restore commuter rail service from Boston to the southeastern portion of the state.

Phase One of the project will extending the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s existing Middlebourough/Lakeville line to East Taunton, Mass., then reach Fall River and New Bedford, Mass., Commonwealth Magazine reports. South Coast Today says the project will require reconstruction of 17.3 miles of track on the New Bedford main line and 11.7 miles of the Fall River secondary, upgrading 7.1 miles of existing Middlesborough secondary track, and building six new stations, and building two new layover facilities. Service is projected to begin in 2023.

The state’s transportation secretary, Stephanie Pollack, reported another  hurdle for the project has been cleared, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved the final federal permit needed for the project. “It’s full speed ahead on South Coast Rail,” she said.

The project has been discussed for some 25 years, according to Commonwealth Magazine.

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