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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

SouthCoast Rail service to Boston could start in 2022 or Charlie Baker's $935 MILLION Brain Fart!


Charlie Baker's $935 MILLION Brain Fart!

MassDOT spent GOBS of taxpayer dollars amending Route 105 in Middleboro - the results are a poorly conceived DISASTER! 

This is Charlie Baker Up For Re-Election Carrot that failed to notify or consider the impacts on Middleboro/Lakeville. 

Before rallying around a flawed plan, think about the costs and consequences. 










SouthCoast Rail service to Boston could start in 2022


By Steve Urbon
Posted Feb 6, 2018

NEW BEDFORD — Commuter rail from SouthCoast to Boston took a leap closer to reality Wednesday as the Mass. Department of Transportation issued a draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (DSEIR) on a phased-in project.
This postpones the full build-out originally proposed. The new report estimates the Phase 1 construction will take just three years rather than more than a decade; DOT predicts that should all go well, construction starting next year, service on the Middleboro route can begin in 2022.
The Middleboro Phase 1 option will be up and running at least 10 years before the full build-out route through Stoughton, costs under a billion, a fraction of the $3.5 billion build-out route, and presents far fewer environmental obstacles.
Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack quoted Gov. Charlie Baker from his State of the Commonwealth speech, “After more than three decades of lip service, we’re going to make commuter rail from Fall River and New Bedford to Boston a reality.”
“With the filing of the DSEIR and other documents, the day gets closer when people will be able to have a one-seat ride on a train between Boston and the South Coast, connecting them to jobs, schools, businesses, and cultural opportunities, and taking vehicles off the highways to help reduce greenhouse gases,” she said.
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said in a statement, “Re-establishing passenger rail service to Boston is one of the key infrastructure investments that will enable Greater New Bedford to become more economically competitive.
“I applaud the Baker-Polito Administration’s thoughtful approach to this complex and long-anticipated project, which will offer more reasons to live, work and invest in our city.”
The DSEIR document analyzes only the new elements proposed as part of Phase I that were not previously analyzed in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS)/Final Environmental Impact Report, said the DOT announcement.
Central Transportation Planning Staff (CTPS) performed ridership analyses, finding that the projected ridership at the new stations under Phase 1 will be 41 percent of the Full Build ridership at one-third of the cost. 

“It is estimated that Phase 1 riders will save a total of approximately 60 minutes each weekday traveling by train when compared to traveling by automobile to and from Boston,” said the announcement. The trip is predicted to take 91 minutes each way. 

The Draft DSEIR willl be the subject of a public meeting at 4 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 21, at the UMass Dartmouth campus. Project Manager Jean Fox said that a 45-day comment period ends March 23.

The Phase 1 announcement was applauded by the region’s political leaders, but with Sen. Mark Montigny, D-New Bedford, who released the original announcement, guarded about the news. The news echoed former Gov. Bill Weld’s promise that if the rail wasn’t running by 1997, “sue me,” he noted. 

“Several hurdles remain before we can finally rest assured that construction can commence and be completed in time for hardworking taxpayers and commuters to board a train in 2022, but today is a major step in the right direction,” Montigny said.

The report also says that ridership on Phase 1 would result in about 40 percent fewer riders than Phase 2. Many of the concerns revolve around a 91-minute ride. 

“They’ve gotta address that,” Montigny said. “They’ve got to find if there’s ways to speed that up.”  

One of the biggest details revealed includes a $935 million price tag in a five-year capital plan.  

“That’s not a pipe dream 20 years from now,” Montigny said. “That means we have benchmarks every month, which I will hold them accountable for.”

He said the public should do the same.

 State Rep. Antonio Cabral, D-New Bedford, said the report is encouraging in a number of areas. “It is clear what the service will look like. And it’s encouraging that the state will continue the planning and design for full-service through Stoughton while adhering to the timeline for Phase 1.”  

Other officials also weighed in with statements:

Rep. William M. Straus, D-Mattapoisett: “The data in this filing shows that providing interim service now for our region by using the Middleborough Line puts people on trains at least ten years sooner, at one-third the cost and without a single wetlands variance being required. This is a creative approach and one which Governor Baker has been willing to take in order to provide the South Coast with the transportation choices we are entitled to.”   

Sen. Michael J. Rodrigues, D-Westport: “This signals a tremendous move forward for a long-awaited project in a deserving region. The economic development potential will be realized much sooner with Phase 1. I applaud the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to the South Coast Rail Project, and its recognition of the impact this will have on our community.”   

Rep. Chris Markey, D-Dartmouth, told The Standard-Times that the 90-minute ride to and from Boston is less time than the highway, and riders can get work done along the way, unlike driving.



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