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Merrimack River Bridge, Haverhill The Patrick-Murray Administration has submitted a formal application for $98.4 million in federal High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail funds for the replacement of a critical rail bridge in Haverhill serving Amtrak “Downeaster” service between Boston and Portland, Maine and the MBTA commuter rail Haverhill Line. If approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration, the grant would fund the final design and replacement of the Merrimack River Bridge, expanding service and enhancing on-time performance for both Amtrak regional and commuter rail service.

“Our application for these funds is being submitted in close cooperation with our regional partners and their own applications for projects that will improve rail service across the Northeast,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Jeffrey Mullan. 

The Merrimack River Bridge replacement application was made under the High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program, and follows earlier successful grant applications by Massachusetts and other New England states for rail project funds.   

The Patrick-Murray Administration this week also joined the Coalition of Northeastern Governors (CONEG), in sending a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood expressing collective support a set of rail infrastructure projects being submitted by nine states, the District of Columbia, and Amtrak for the recently available high speed intercity passenger rail grant funds. 

The grant application submitted by the April 4 deadline includes “shovel ready” construction projects, such as the Haverhill bridge replacement in Massachusetts, along with double tracking and track expansion and power and signal upgrades that can be implemented quickly. 

In January 2010, the Patrick-Murray Administration announced the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded $70 million in High Speed Rail federal Recovery Act funds for final design and construction of the Knowledge Corridor along the Connecticut River rail line in western Massachusetts.

Governor Patrick joined New England Governors in July 2009 to announce plans to work together on a coordinated regional vision for high speed rail that will connect major cities and airports, and support economic growth throughout the region. The goal is to double passenger rail ridership in the Northeast by 2030.

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