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related to Recovery Act spending and allows for the reporting of potential fraud, waste, and abuse.

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Boston Area Commuter Lines Being Upgraded

Electricians install heaters at a bus stop on the Washington Street Silver Line (L). Construction workers upgrading tracks.


Map of the US with Massachusetts highlightedThree projects aimed at improving on-time performance of two commuter rail lines and providing more amenities and better service for bus riders in the Boston metropolitan area are being funded by $75.2 million in Recovery funds. These projects which had been on hold due to budget constraint have now been started.

The project with most of the funding – $50 million – is the Fitchburg commuter rail line, the longest in the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA)  system and among the worst for on-time performance.  New tracks are being added to a portion of the line and switches are being constructed that will allow trains to move from one track to the other. Officials of the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company (MBCR), which operates and maintains the MBTA’s commuter rail network, say that the improvements will increase Fitchburg’s capacity, reliability, and on-time performance.  Trains will be able to go faster and maneuver around a disabled train or other obstacles that cause backups and delays. Work started in October 2009 and is expected to be completed by December 2011.


MBCR is using another $17.4 million of the Recovery Act funds for similar improvements to the Haverhill commuter rail line, which runs between Boston and Haverhill.  New tracks are being added to a 6-mile portion of the line that is currently a single track, allowing trains to easily get around delays. Signal and switch improvements will also be made. MBCR officials say the project will significantly increase service reliability and on-time performance.  Work started in April 2010 and is expected to be completed by February 2012.


Railcar laying down new track as it moves down the old track
Haverhill  - New tracks will increase on-time performance.

The third project, costing the remaining $7.8 million, includes the installation of new shelters and benches along the MBTA’s busiest bus routes.  Additional signage and pavement markings along with accessibility improvements for people with disabilities are also part of the project. Contractors and temporary MBTA staff hired through the Recovery Act are performing the work, which began in April 2010 and is expected to be completed by October 2011.


 Photos provided by the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority


More projects in Massachusetts

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