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South Coast RailThe Patrick Administration announced 17 technical assistance grants will be awarded to communities to implement smart growth principles of the South Coast Rail Economic Development and Land Use Corridor Plan. This is the sixth round of grants available to 31 communities who will be impacted by South Coast Rail.

MassDOT and the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development reviewed the applications and awarded communities technical assistance for projects to address and support new zoning, housing needs and production plans, corridor studies, economic development, land use strategy and permitting.

This sixth round of grants totals almost $245,000. Applicant communities worked with their Regional Planning Agencies (RPAs) to develop their proposals and will meet with the RPAs to implement their plans. The Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District will work with 14 communities; the Old Colony Planning Council with two; and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council with two.

The South Coast Rail Economic Development and Land Use Corridor Plan, developed in 2009, has made strategic investments to assist the 31 corridor communities in preparing for passenger rail through sustainable development and appropriate land use. The Plan identifies areas that are appropriate for new development near proposed South Coast Rail transit stations. The fifth round of technical assistance announced in October 2012 provided grants to 15 Corridor communities of $5,000 – $25,000 to plan for sustainable, smart growth.

Over the past five years, communities have used the grants to achieve smart growth principles as outlined in the Corridor Plan. These efforts include transit-oriented development, riverwalk and streetscape planning, mixed-use bylaws in town centers, bicycle and pedestrian connectivity to new station locations and several more. The technical assistance grants are part of a broader strategy to target state investments in the region to advance the housing, economic development and preservation goals outlined in the Corridor Plan. Technical assistance grants to communities in the region have totaled more than $1 million over the first five years of the program.

In September, Governor Patrick announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the South Coast Rail project, and MassDOT has adopted the Corps’ document as the state-required Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR).  MassDOT has identified the Stoughton rail alternative as its preferred route for providing the best transportation, environmental and smart growth benefits.

For more on the Corridor Plan or South Coast Rail, visit www.southcoastrail.com.   The list of communities receiving grants for 2014 include:

Attleboro, Berkley, Bridgewater, Dartmouth, Dighton, Fall River, Foxborough, Freetown, Marion, Middleborough, North Attleboro, Rehoboth, Sharon, Somerset, Stoughton, Taunton, and Westport.

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