PALMER, Mass. (WWLP) – Despite being cut from this year’s state budget, money is still coming in to expand passenger rail service between western Massachusetts and Boston.
Work on the “compass” rail project chugs along. MassDOT is on-board, hiring a five-person staff to focus solely on the East-West rail. Folks are now advocating for Palmer to be prioritized.
“It’s not just compass rail. It’s everything else, it’s every other investment. Investments in train service, but also investments in our regional transit authorities, expansion of those routes, expansion of those services because everyone here, you’ve made the investment, you’ve made that commitment. Now it is up to us to meet that,” said MassDOT Secretary Monica Tibbits-Nutt.
Over $100-million in federal dollars was previously announced to fix the tracks between Palmer and Worcester. The case for Palmer to be prioritized along this future railway was laid out at the former Palmer Union Station on Monday.
“We as a community have come up with this whole conceptual vision for bringing Palmer an economic boost but also a benefit for eastern Mass. folks,” said Scarlet Lamothe, General Manager of The Steaming Tenders in Palmer.
State Senator Jake Oliveira told 22News, “You know everyone knows about Union Station in Springfield. There’s already an established stop over in Pittsfield, but Palmer is really a stop that needs to be developed.”
It’s a big step forward for Palmer and the East-West rail project as a whole.
“We are local, regional people in western and central Massachusetts but the administration has put their money where their mouth is by saying that they’re going to have these people that are focused specifically on this initiative. So we’re excited about working with them, it’s a great opportunity,” said State Representative Todd Smola.
A final report from the East-West Rail commission, detailing the project’s overall governing structure, is expected to be released in the near future.
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