Officials Showcase Plans for Holyoke Train Platform

Massachusetts and federal lawmakers were in Holyoke Monday to highlight plans to build a train platform, the latest in a series of projects aimed at revitalizing Holyoke’s downtown.

Holyoke is included in what’s being described as the “Knowledge Corridor” – it refers to the train line that will run from New Haven, Connecticut, through Hartford, Springfield, Holyoke, Northampton, Greenfield, and north to Vermont. Standing in a gravel lot next to the future Knowledge Corridor tracks, down the street from City Hall, Congressman Richard Neal emphasized the importance of $73 million of 2009 federal stimulus funding in making the project a reality.

“This came because John Olver and I cast a tough vote for that Recovery Act. That was a long-term investment in America, well met by responsible economists everywhere.”

$2 million in state funding is in place to build the rail platform in Holyoke, which is currently in the design stage. Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse says the rail platform should be done by 2014 when passenger trains are scheduled to begin running on the line.

“We’re counting on this to happen to attract a workforce from beyond our borders. So obviously when the project begins, it’s job creation, it’s sending a message to the residents, and the property owners in the neighborhood that the city cares, who want to see something happen in this neighborhood, and just down the block…is the old H. H. Richardson train station, which we hope will become an attractive place for redevelopment once the platform here is built.”

While the platform will simply be a waiting area for passengers, Morse says it’s the latest in a series of projects aimed at revitalizing Holyoke’s downtown. Last week, Morse appointed of the city’s new Creative Economy Industry Coordinator, who will oversee the development of new arts and culture related businesses.