SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – 22News heard from the local community after Governor Charlie Baker announced he’s on board with the East-West Rail Project. The consensus is people here would benefit from a train connecting them to Boston.
People 22News spoke with said this transit option would help them save on gas and pursue new job opportunities out in the eastern part of the state.
Gov. Baker joined Congressman Richard Neal at Union Station in Springfield, giving his full support for the rail.
“There is an agreement on a path forward here, and we are going to work between now and the end of the legislative session to put the requisite building blocks we need to put in place at the state level, which will then make it possible for us to leverage a lot of the federal money that is there,” Gov. Baker said.
The project aims to connect western Massachusetts to the eastern part of the state through a high-speed rail, making stops in Springfield and possibly Palmer. Some locals are hopeful about the new job opportunities that it could bring.
“More money! Right now I’m at a job where I am limited and my pay is kind of low but I’m hoping in the future I’ll work on getting something a little bit better,” said Bryant Hayre from Springfield.
The project will be funded by the federal infrastructure bill, and the tracks and trains would be operated by Amtrak.
Congressman Neal said this rail extension and the popularity of remote work could help some people solve another problem: housing affordability.
Andre Wiggins is from the eastern part of the state, looking to go to school here in western Massachusetts. He says he relies heavily on public transportation, and a train connecting east to west would be helpful.
“It’s another way of transportation,” Wiggins said. “It’d probably be a little faster than the bus stops I use from here to there.”
The next step in the planning phase: creating a “rail authority” that will oversee the project, including those federal funds.
And while there is no set timeframe, Congressman Neal adding as soon the rail authority is constructed, the timeline of the project would be expedited.
Tuesday’s announcement brings us a step closer to being connected to Boston by train, but a time frame for construction is still unknown.