The following is a press release from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao today announced an investment of more than $291 million in grants for 11 intercity passenger rail projects in nine states through the Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Program (Partnership Program). Massachusetts will receive more than $29.3 million.
“Investing in America’s railroad track, bridges and stations has been a top priority for this Administration since Day One,” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao said. “It’s critical that this infrastructure is brought up to a state of good repair so, as more Americans begin to travel as a result of the improving economy, intercity passenger rail service is made even safer and more efficient,” Chao added.
The Massachusetts grant is for commuter rail, specifically accessibility and infrastructure improvements for the Worcester Union Station.
The $29.3 million grant will rehabilitate and upgrade the platform and track area of Worcester Union Station, constructing a new island platform with grade-separated pedestrian access to replace a single side platform, plus associated rehabilitation of two station tracks and signals.
The new, 800-foot-long, high-level platform will provide full Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility and enable multiple trains to stop at Worcester simultaneously. Project improvements will be owned by Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA).
The project will expand the station’s capacity to serve MBTA commuter services and current and potential future Amtrak intercity service. The upgrades will improve reliability and reduce delays and operational conflicts created by the constrained, single-side platform that cannot easily serve trains moving in opposite directions.
The Partnership Program is intended to improve intercity passenger rail performance by funding capital projects to repair, replace or rehabilitate publicly owned or controlled railroad assets, thereby bringing them into a state of good repair. Funding for these awards totals $291,422,706, with $198 million made available from the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020 and $93,422,706 in remaining funds made available through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) published a Notice of Funding Opportunity for this award cycle on June 10, 2020. The evaluation and selection process considered several factors in choosing projects, including the project’s abilities to improve service and safety and to meet existing or anticipated demand.
“This Administration has invested billions in railroad infrastructure to ensure the safe movement of passengers and goods throughout our nation,” FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory said. “These investments have proven vital during this challenging year and kept essential supplies moving throughout our nation, and these State of Good Repair grants will continue those improvements and enhance passenger rail service to ready the nation for the forthcoming recovery,” Batory added.