Governor Deval Patrick, MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey, and other state and local officials visited Stockbridge Station on the Housatonic Railroad, seen today at left, to highlight the economic benefits of an investment in the rail line that would bring passenger rail between the Berkshires and New York City.
The Patrick-Murray Administration's 21st Century Transportation Plan "The Way Forward" invests $113.8 million for track rehabilitation, signal system, grade crossings, and six stations along the 37-mile rail corridor within Massachusetts.
Recently, MassDOT received Federal Highway discretionary funds to support a station location and design analysis study for passenger service. Past research indicates that Berkshire County attracts some 2.5 million visitors annually with 1 million coming specifically from the New York City area. Past research also shows that passenger rail has the potential to attract 2 million one-way riders each year from New York city commuters, second homeowners, and students.
“While the Berkshire County region is well-known as a tourism destination, its existing transportation infrastructure has made it difficult for businesses and innovators to truly thrive,” said Secretary Davey. “Whether it's unlocking a region’s potential or keeping its momentum going, we need to make these kinds of investments that will meet the needs of tomorrow’s job creators and their workforce.”
In order to run passenger service, similar upgrades would be required in Connecticut. Transportation officials in both states are optimistic that Massachusetts’s efforts could be the catalyst just south of the state border.