Governor Deval Patrick chose the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth as the site to announce one of his administration's most important policy initiatives to date -- the extension of commuter rail service to southeastern Massachusetts.
Governor Patrick was joined at this morning's (April 4) presentation at the Woodland Commons Community Center by several top administration officials, legislators, mayors, and business leaders.
Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack welcomed the attendees. "We consider UMass Dartmouth a place where problems are solved, challenges confronted, and opportunities created," Chancellor MacCormack said. "So, it is an honor to have such a diverse array of talent and wisdom here to talk about one of the biggest challenges and opportunities facing our region."
PRESS RELEASE FROM THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE
GOVERNOR PATRICK ANNOUNCES SOUTH COAST RAIL PLAN
Plan Outlines Steps to Deliver Passenger Service by 2016;
Commits $17 Million to Initial Phase
April 4, 2007 -- Governor Deval Patrick today announced a Plan for Action to bring passenger rail service to the South Coast by 2016. The Governor's initiative sets forth 10 action items necessary to deliver rail service to one of the Commonwealth's fastest growing, yet underserved regions.
"For nearly 20 years, Massachusetts governors have promised the residents of Southeastern Massachusetts access to the transit system that links the cities and towns of eastern Massachusetts," said Governor Patrick. "In those two decades we have seen the economic and environmental benefits of extended commuter rail in other parts of the Commonwealth, while much of the potential of the South Coast has gone untapped. I am here today to end the talking and get to work."
While progress on South Coast commuter rail service has been stagnant over the past two decades, today's announcement fulfills a commitment by the Patrick-Murray Administration to unveil an action plan within the Administration's first 90 days. The South Coast Rail project would deliver passenger rail transportation from Boston's South Station to the cities of Fall River and New Bedford.
"This administration is fully committed to bringing rail access to the South Coast," said Governor Patrick. "I promised that we would have a timeline for this project within the first 90 days of this administration, and we have one."
Commuter rail service is expected to help South Coast communities attract new private investment, while providing vital infrastructure improvements to spur significant economic development for the burgeoning South Coast communities. The project requires the region to work in partnership with the Commonwealth to develop a sustainable economic development and land use plan that fosters further job growth and boosts ridership. Commuter rail service will also improve access to affordable housing for Boston area workers, while improving air quality by reducing regional automobile congestion.
"Commuter rail service generates meaningful transportation, economic and environmental benefits to the communities it serves," said Transportation Secretary Bernard Cohen. "This blueprint carries the weight of an Administration that is committed to bringing commuter rail service to the South Coast."
The plan details the 10 action items necessary to complete the project, among them:
-evaluating and developing sound economic development and land use planning;
-executing a comprehensive public outreach campaign;
-acquiring the necessary right-of-way;
-completing the state and federal environmental review process;
-securing the appropriate environmental permits;
-completing the project's design and station siting, and constructing the project, including capacity improvements to South Station and building a mid-day layover facility.
Completion of the project is estimated to cost $1.4 billion. The Administration has made an initial bonding commitment of $17.2 million, which will advance the project through FY2010. New revenue sources will be needed to pay for the full cost of the project. Meanwhile, the Administration will work with the municipalities along the new rail corridor to ensure that the project prompts sustainable economic development to help support the financing of this project and other state transportation needs.
During the course of the project, the public will also be available to review project developments, share opinions and learn more about the proposed rail service through the project website - www.southcoastrail.com
- which will be launched shortly.