Today, courtesy of our TIGER discretionary grant program, we signed a new lease on life for one of Massachusetts' most important commuter rail lines. And I want to thank everyone who braved the fall chill to attend today's groundbreaking in Fitchburg.
More than a century ago, the Fitchburg Railroad served passengers traveling between central Massachusetts and Boston at the dawn of America's golden age of railroading. But, over time, the route fell into neglect; service was cut back and the infrastructure was allowed to deteriorate.
Not anymore. Today marks a new beginning for the Fitchburg Railroad. We are reinvesting in this line to provide a faster, safer, more reliable ride for the thousands of Massachusetts commuters who would prefer to ride the rails in comfort than ride their brakes in traffic.
Through TIGER, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, DOT is providing $55 million to help bring this storied rail line into the 21st century. We're helping extend service westward, construct a new passenger station in Fitchburg, and allow freight and passenger trains to share the tracks more efficiently.
And, if you regularly commute by car in northern Massachusetts, you know what US Representative John Olver meant when he said, "This line extension will reduce painful congestion along Route 2. The hardest part of the workday shouldn't be getting to and from work."
Our Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program was designed to honor innovative, problem-solving projects that fall between the cracks of current funding formulas, and the Fitchburg rail line is a perfect example. As MassDOT Secretary Mullan said, "This project is a great opportunity to connect communities and give people more choice."
Breathing new life into Fitchburg Railroad certainly helped warm up the day in Worcester County. But stay tuned to this blog because DOT's TIGER is about to get a welcome companion.