Hampden County

Palmer residents want the state to make their town a stop on a passenger rail to Boston

PALMER, Mass. (WWLP) - You can take a train from Springfield to Connecticut, but not to Boston. 

Many Palmer residents want the state to change that and create a high-speed train to connect western Massachusetts with the eastern part of the state. 

Dozens of residents from Palmer and surrounding communities were at Pathfinder Vocational Technical High School Saturday mapping out potential solutions for a rail stop in Palmer.  All of their ideas will be included in a UMass study that will support Palmer as a rail stop in a high-speed rail to Boston.

MassDOT is currently conducting a $1 million "East-West Study" to analyze the costs, benefits, and economic impacts of a high-speed rail, from Pittsfield to Boston. They also want to determine rail alternatives and potential stations.

Some residents believe a high-speed train to Boston would boost the town's economy if it runs through Palmer. 

"We have been struggling for too long," said Donald Blais of Palmer. "It would help our schools bringing people in from other parts of the state, and then there is housing. We really need it."

"Palmer is historically known as the town of seven railroads, so we have a lot of the infrastructure in place," said Sarah Szczebak, Palmer Community Development Director. "It would be a huge advantage to not just Palmer, but to the area."

Szczebak said the findings from the UMass study will be sent to MassDOT once it's finished at the end of May. The MassDOT "East-West study" will conclude in the spring of next year.


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