$17 Million Announced For Nationwide Rail Improvements

United States Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced Friday that twelve cities and states will share nearly $17 million to move, replace, and improve segments of railroad track -including several projects in the region – under the Federal Railroad Administration program.

Massachusetts is on the list to receive a portion of the funds. $2 million will go toward the so-called Patriot Corridor Double-Stack Clearance Initiative. That involves removing vertical obstacles in tunnels and bridges that currently prevent double-stacked container trains from operating on the line, which runs between Mechanicville, New York, and Ayer, Massachusetts. Democratic Congressman Richard Neal of Springfield says these are much needed improvements to freight operations and capacity.

"I think it highlights the role that east west transportation plays, it allows for upgrade in the track and I think that passenger service and commercial activity are all very important to the livelihood of those who live in Franklin, Western Hampshire and Berkshire counties, so I'm very pleased. I lobbied Mr. LaHood on that personally."

A large component of the overall project involves raising the vertical clearance of the 4.75-mile Hoosac Tunnel in Florida, Massachusetts. The Federal Railroad Administration says it received an overwhelming number of applications for the funds, and says improving transportation infrastructure boosts regional economies.