Healey reiterates support for expanded East-West passenger rail across Massachusetts

The rail platform at the Joseph Scelsi Intermodal Transportation Center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. (Adam Frenier/NEPM)
The rail platform at the Joseph Scelsi Intermodal Transportation Center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. (Adam Frenier/NEPM)

Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey said her administration is continuing its push for expanded passenger rail from the western part of the state to Boston.

In the recently-signed state budget, lawmakers left out $12.5 million for track work in Pittsfield and for a study on a new train station in Palmer. But the Healey Administration instead was able to include the funding in the state Department of Transportation’s capital improvement plan.

During a visit to Holyoke Monday, the governor pointed out some key administrative positions did indeed make the budget.

"The message from our administration is full steam ahead," Healey said. "You've seen this through the investments we've made that were recently signed in through the budget with respect to a director as well as staffing positions,".

The governor said expanded passenger rail is not just important for the western part of the state, but for all of Massachusetts.

“We’re all about making Massachusetts more affordable, more equitable and more competitive and obviously transportation is a key pillar of that,” Healey said.

U.S. Representative Richard Neal of Springfield has pushed for federal funding for East-West rail. As he stood alongside Healey, he said he is confident the governor will get the job done.

"The governor's been clear as a candidate and she's been clear in her early months as governor that she intends to see this through," Neal said. "Got full faith in the governor."

Neal, a longtime advocate for the rail project, said money allocated to the state through a federal infrastructure bill would cover for the cost.

“That’s a pretty generous allocation. I know because we wrote most of that legislation,” he said. “I think the state is receiving close to $10 billion," Neal said.

Healey and Neal’s comments came the same day the Boston Globe published an editorial, which said the state should contribute to projects like East-West rail and other infrastructure initiatives and not rely solely on federal dollars.

This story is a production of the New England News Collaborative. It was originally published by New England Public Media. 



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