East-west rail concept proposal has strong support


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Western Massachusetts might finally connect to Boston if Mass DOT’s proposed rail plan becomes a reality.

The Department of Transportation wants to make a priority of extending rail service east to Boston and north to Greenfield.

The draft-proposal includes plans to study an east-west rail, and prioritizes a pilot rail service from Springfield to Greenfield, something Berkshire state senator Adam Hinds (D – Berkshire) said could save struggling local economies.

“Three counties experiencing population decline, two of them are here in western Mass.: Franklin and Berkshire Counties,” Hinds told 22News. “As we try to turn the tide on those indicators, we don’t have the infrastructure in place to do it. We don’t even have connection to regional economic hubs.”

Legislators, including former State Senate president Stanley Rosenberg, were among the more than 50 people gathered to discuss the proposal.

William MacGregor of Springfield said east-west service would make it possible to work in Boston, and pay cheaper rent in western Massachusetts.

“Being able to get people to where the jobs are,” MacGregor said. “We can leverage the quality of life, and the relatively low cost of living here, and I think that’s an important consideration.”

MassDOT is accepting public comment on this proposal until February 16.

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