State legislators in Massachusetts are working to write a transportation bond bill. Funding is being sought for a couple of major transportation projects in Springfield.
The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority hopes to get state money to build a new maintenance and operations facility to replace a 100 –year- old former trolley barn that the administrator of the authority says is obsolete and too small to repair modern buses. Also an urgent need is seen to begin work to replace the aging elevated section of Interstate 91 in downtown Springfield.
PVTA administrator Mary MacInnes has been lobbying state legislators from the greater Springfield area to obtain $70 million to construct the new facility to service the authority’s bus fleet.
The authority has located an industrial site about five miles east of downtown Springfield to build a 308,000 square foot building. The current maintenance facility, located just north of downtown Springfield,is 37,000 square feet.
PVTA is the second largest regional transit authority in the state. It provides public transportation in two dozen communities in Hampden and Hampshire counties. MacInnes says there are plans to expand service as a result of additional funding the authority will receive from the state this year and next for operating expenses.
Democratic State Representative Sean Curran of Springfield says he has spoken with MacInnes about the project and is convinced it is needed.
Curren says a transportation bond bill should also include money to at least design a replacement for the I-91 viaduct in downtown Springfield.
Concrete falling from the deck of the elevated highway caused officials earlier this month to close the upper level of a parking garage that is directly under the highway. It underscores the urgent need to replace the entire aging elevated section of I-91 in Springfield, according to Tim Brennan, executive director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.
MassDOT has consultants drafting plans to replace the Interstate 91 viaduct—a project with a preliminary cost estimate of $400 million. The state spends $2 million a year to make emergency repairs to the elevated portion of the highway.