New England gets $82.7m for high-speed rail project

New England gets $82.7m for high-speed rail project

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has announced $82.7 million to improve high-speed and intercity passenger rail in Rhode Island, Maine, Connecticut and Vermont.  The dollars will provide needed upgrades to the Northeast Corridor, Connecticut’s New Haven – Springfield line, Maine’s Downeaster route and the Vermonter service. 

“These are the kinds of investments that will improve reliability and on-time performance and attract more passengers,” said Secretary LaHood. “We are creating jobs throughout New England, building our rails with American-made materials and growing the New England economy.”

A highlight of the rail dollars includes:

Rhode Island Department of Transportation.  $26.2 million for the design and construction of an electrified third track parallel to the Northeast Corridor’s main line, and a new platform for the station in Kingston, RI.  The third track will permit faster trains to overtake slower trains, reducing congestion and improving on-time performance on the Northeast Corridor for Amtrak and commuter trains.  Throughout the Northeast Corridor from Washington, D.C to Boston, $1.75 billion is being invested to improve service.

Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority (NNEPRA).  $20.8 million to alleviate congestion and reduce delays on segments of Amtrak’s Downeaster service. The project will provide critically needed double track, as well as signal and highway-rail grade crossing improvements between Wilmington and Ballardville, MA.  Aging rail will be replaced with new, continuously-welded rail between Lawrence and Bradford, MA. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) operates commuter trains on this line, and on-time performance for the Downeaster has deteriorated due to bottlenecks within this area.  Currently, the Downeaster operates from Boston to Portland, ME, and is expanding to Brunswick, ME thanks to previous, federal grants totaling $38 million. 

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Thirty-two states across the U.S. and the District of Columbia are currently laying the foundation for high-speed rail corridors to link Americans with faster and more energy-efficient travel options. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and annual appropriations have provided $10.1 billion to put America on track towards providing new and expanded rail access to communities and improving the reliability, speed, and frequency of existing service.