South Coast Rail Unveils Rail Station Plans

NEW BEDFORD — The South Coast Rail project announced 18 proposed rail stations for commuter service between this city, Fall River and Boston on Monday, including three in New Bedford.
The local rail stations would be sited at King’s Highway in the North End and Whale’s Tooth next to Route 18 in the Hicks-Logan area along with a part-time station at State Pier for downtown residents and tourists.
Fall River would get two rail stations, one at Battleship Cove and another at the Fall River Depot off Davol Street.
Freetown would get one rail station off South Main Street at the U-Storage site.
Taunton would get one or two rail stations, depending on the rail route chosen.
Raynham, Easton and Stoughton would each get one station, but only if the Stoughton rail route option were chosen.
Middleborough and Norton would each get one station, but that also is dependent on which of the four rail routes under consideration is chosen.
A fifth option — rapid commuter bus service — is possible with a different set of station options for many communities, although in New Bedford all three rail locations would be considered for bus service to Boston.
Existing rail service connecting Lakeville to Boston would continue under virtually all the new rail service options, with some aspects tweaked depending on which of the South Coast Rail routes is selected.
South Coast Rail is on a planning and construction timetable that would provide rail service in 2016. Major hurdles remain including environmental reviews, marketing studies and financing. Total cost is estimated at $1.4 billion.
A formal announcement of the station sites was made Monday by Bernard Cohen, secretary of transportation and public works in the administration of Gov. Deval Patrick. Mr. Cohen said the South Coast Rail project would “address a long-standing transportation inequity, encourage economic development, foster job creation and connect people with affordable housing options while protecting the natural environment.”
Kristina Egan, the state’s project manager, said, “Everything has gone really smoothly. We have stuck to our original timelines for over a year.”
The South Coast Rail project has had many skeptics because New Bedford and Fall River have sought a commuter rail connection to Boston for decades and repeatedly had proposals dangled in front of them that later did not pan out.
Ms. Egan said a rail route or the bus option should be selected by late June 2009.
“This is a major milestone,” Ms. Egan said of Monday’s announcement. Ms. Egan said communities can begin planning stations including working on zoning and development adjacent to the stations that would encourage new housing and job growth.
September 29, 2008
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