By Meghna Chakrabarti (The Third Rail)
The MBTA will receive $51.5 million from the federal stimulus program, according to an announcement made Thursday by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
The vast majority of the funds, more than $43 million, is slated for improvements to commuter rail, specifically on the Haverhill and Fitchburg lines. The approved projects include new track circuits, new switches and grade crossing improvements.
Other funds go to station, signage and signal system upgrades.
“We are committed to improving the quality and reliability of commuter rail service throughout the Commonwealth,” said Gov. Patrick in a statement. “These recovery investments will help create jobs, improve our infrastructure and strengthen our long-term economy.”
The stimulus funding comes on the heels of a new fare increase proposal released by the MBTA on Wednesday. The overall 19.5 percent fare hike could raise $69 million annually.
Transportation officials say the stimulus boost will not eliminate the need for a fare increase, as stimulus funds are dedicated to specific transit infrastructure projects. The fare hike is meant to cover the MBTA’s operating deficits and growing debt payments.
The federal government also gave final approval for the $12.8 million regional transit center in Greenfield. Massachusetts received a total $64.3 million in transit related stimulus funds on Thursday.
This program aired on July 9, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.