SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Just this week, state and federal leaders were at Union Station in Springfield, touting the benefits of the long-discussed East-West rail expansion. Many business owners are enthusiastic about the idea of the expansion, hoping that it points to an overall revitalization of downtown Springfield.

Tuesday, state and federal leaders, including Governor Charlie Baker and Congressman Richard Neal, spoke about the plans to link the state’s largest and third largest city by rail. Many public leaders, like State Senator Eric Lesser, support the effort and believe it could bring an economic boost to the area. Local business owners agree.

Andrew Brow, owner of Highbrow Restaurant Group, told 22News, “Springfield is coming back. We got the arts and entertainment, we just had jazzfest last weekend and I think it will bring people down here. They’ll go the the museums, MGM, and vice versa hopefully. The whole purpose of it is to get people from the city here, get people here to the city, and open up jobs.”

Congressman Neal stated he hopes this project will transform Springfield into a national intersection. The project could bring more people to the city and not only for jobs, but to discover what Springfield has to offer culturally. Moving forward, the state is looking to tap in to federal funding for the projects.

Governor Baker stated he’d like to see applications from companies interested in doing the track work by the end of the year.