SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — It’s taken about a decade to complete, but some big steps in a massive statewide rail project are done.
The work has caused traffic headaches, but as a result, western Mass. is expected to reap a number of benefits for years to come.
It’s a taller Roosevelt Avenue bridge that officials say is part of the pathway to economic surges statewide
“We think through opportunity with two class one railroads in the Commonwealth and some short-time shippers, we make the state an attractive area,” says Lt. Governor Timothy Murray.
Part of a $100 million deal between CSX and the state forced bridges throughout the area to be raised so double stacked freight trains could pass underneath.
Lt. Governor Murray says 38 percent of New England rail activity passes through the state and that previously, trains would have to be unstacked in New York after traveling nationwide
Murray adds, “It added costs. It was inefficient, and put Massachusetts and New England at a competitive disadvantage.”
But Murray says not anymore and now an already large West Springfield railyard will be expanded, creating new jobs
“That means containers coming here, products being unloaded, shipped, also opportunities… diversifying and strengthening economy,” says Murray.
Murray hopes the expanded yard will spur commerce, but there’s more.
Part of the CSX deal gives the state ownership over central Mass. railroads that leaders hope will one day link Boston and Springfield via a high speed commuter rail.
“North south is moving, but I would love the east/west connection. It’s now time to envision it and get it moving,” Murray commented.
The new bridges have a 75-100 year life expectancy and about half a dozen are still being completed across the area
The first double stacked trains are now passing through the area. The projects are ahead of schedule.