Thursday, 4:30 PM
Plan for southeast rail line would expand South Station, move major post office
By Mac Daniel, Globe Staff
DARTMOUTH -- Governor Deval Patrick's plan to bring commuter rail service to New Bedford and Fall River by 2016 would include an expansion of South Station that would force the relocation a major postal facility where much of Boston's mail is sorted.
Patrick outlined a 10-point action plan for the rail line today at a press conference at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, calling it the largest economic initiative in the history of the state. It is still unclear how the $1.4 billion project will be financed, although Patrick said the administration has set aside $17.2 million for design and environmental permits.
"For nearly 20 years, Massachusetts governors have promised the residents of Southeast Massachusetts access to the transit system that links cities and towns all across Eastern Massachusetts," Patrick told a crowd of about 150 local leaders. "I am here today to end the talking and get to work."
Today's announcement fulfilled a campaign pledge by Patrick to draft an action plan for the rail line within the administrationís first 90 days. Officials hope economic development along the proposed route would defray some construction costs.
The action plan comes after a commission appointed by Legislature estimated that there was a $15 billion to $19 billion budget shortfall for the upkeep and repair of the state's current transportation infrastructure. Despite that bleak forecast, Patrick said that the rail project was essential and would create jobs throughout the Commonwealth.
The new rail line would include four new tracks at South Station, which alone is estimated to cost $31.4 million. The new tracks would force the relocation of the United States Postal Annex on Dorchester Avenue along Fort Point Channel. The post office has been in negotiating with the Massachusetts Port Authority to move the facility to South Boston.