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Secretary LaHood, Fitchburg Rail, October 18, 2010 Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray today joined U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Congressman John Olver to announce the groundbreaking for the $55.5 million Wachusett Commuter Rail Extension Project.

The project, funded by a federal stimulus Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant, will extend the Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line by 4.5 miles to a brand new Wachusett commuter rail station. The project also includes track improvements to support freight and passenger rail and a new layover facility.

"I wish to thank Secretary LaHood and Congressman Olver for their support as we make historic investments in freight and commuter rail in Fitchburg and across our state," said Lieutenant Governor Murray.  "It is gratifying to see commuter rail service expanded for commuters in this area."

"Thanks to the Recovery Act, we're investing $55.5 million to extend commuter rail service and unlock economic opportunities for people across Massachusetts," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "This is great news for the region's economy and the thousands of Massachusetts commuters who will benefit from a faster, safer, more reliable, and more comfortable ride."

Ridership on the Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line between Boston and Fitchburg has grown steadily since 2004. This ridership growth, coupled with at capacity parking facilities demonstrated a need for the service extension. The Wachusett Station will serve an estimated 400 new commuter rail passengers in 2012, and divert 824 vehicle trips from Route 2.

The Wachusett extension project will improve the region's economy by reducing the commute time from communities west of Fitchburg to the Boston area job market increasing the desirability of living in the region. Additional "reverse commute" options offer an opportunity for workers along the corridor to access employment centers in the region, including the 231 Industrial Park in Fitchburg.

Check out the post on the US Secretary LaHood's "Fast Lane" blog here

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