Study to Examine East-west Rail, Bus System
By Matt Murphy
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
BOSTON -- The engineering firm that helped to build One World Trade Center and Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York will lead the state’s study into the feasibility of building out passenger rail from Boston to either Springfield or Pittsfield.
Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack told the MassDOT board of directors on Monday that WSP USA had been picked to lead the East-West Rail study, which was green-lighted by Gov. Charlie Baker at an event in Springfield over the summer.
The study is expected to take about 18 months, and Pollack said that WSP would have support from AECOM, Regina Villa Associates and Keville Enterprises.
“A lot of excitement out in western Massachusetts on that,” Pollack said.
WSP USA is currently working on a high-speed rail project in Texas to connect the northern part of the state with Houston in 90 minutes.
With the board of directors and the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board set to hear full presentations on Monday about studies on congestion, the North-South Rail Link and the Allston transit project, Pollack said she wanted to give brief updates on “equally important efforts to help lay the groundwork for the kind of future service that a lot of folks talked about during our public comments period.”
Pollack said she is working to put together an East-West Rail advisory committee that she hopes will begin meeting in December to help set the scope of the study, which will include six service alternatives, including one that would provide for travel time of “90 minutes or less to western Massachusetts.”
Pollack said MassDOT has also posted a request for a firm that could study the state’s bus system and explore the possibility of “doing a reset on the bus network,” as other metropolitan areas have. Responses from firms interested in doing that work are due Dec. 6.
The state is also soliciting for a firm to study Lynn’s transit system and recommend a “transit action plan” for the North Shore city, similar to work the state did for Everett. Responses for that work are due Dec. 20, and Pollack said the study would take about 12 months.