The Obama administration Monday announced more than $700 million for transportation projects across the country. The administration’s transportation secretary visited Springfield Massachusetts to highlight one of the projects. WAMC”s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.
US Transportation Secretary Raymond LaHood formally announced $17.6 million dollars has been approved for Springfield’s Union Station. It’s the final piece of funding needed to begin transforming the derelict downtown building into a modern transportation center. LaHood called it a good investment for taxpayers.
LaHood said the project, which is expected to cost a total of $45 million will create construction jobs, permanent jobs at the new train and bus station, and jobs from economic spin off. The modern station will be part of a growing network of high speed passenger rail in the North East.
The Union Station Regional Intermodal Transportation Center , as it is currently dubbed, will be home to facilities for Amtrack train service, commuter rail, intercity bus, and public transit buses.
With the funding now secured, and the project’s plans long in place, actual construction work will begin this fall, according to Kevin Kennedy’s the city of Springfield’s chief economic development official.
The project’s plans call for part of the 85 year old station to be demolished and replaced by parking and bus bays. The main terminal building will be renovated to include new passenger waiting areas, ticket windows, new elevators to the track level and retail amenities. There will be office space for rent in the future.
The downtown train station closed in 1973. Congressman Richard Neal said its been his goal to renovate and reopen it since he was mayor of Springfield almost 25 years ago
The Obama administration has plans to spend close to $1 billion to improve and expand high speed passenger rail service in the North East Corridor. A $72 million federally funded project to upgrade the tracks and signals between New Haven Connecticut and Vermont is to start later this summer.
Timothy Brennan, executive director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, says the track improvements will bring high speed passenger rail to western Massachusetts and ensure success for the new Union Station.
The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority plans to relocate its administrative offices to the new transportation center. PVTA Administrator Mary MacInnes says public transit users in Springfield will have a safe, comfortable and convenient bus terminal
In a separate federal funding announcements, the PVTA was awarded $3.9 million to develop a new bus repair and maintenance garage. The PVTA’s current bus garage in Springfield is 108 years old.