By Chris Barrett, Providence Business News Staff Writer
TAUNTON – Fifteen Massachusetts communities will share $320,000 to plan for development around train stations proposed as part of the long-awaited South Coast commuter rail extension project.
Lt. Gov. Tim Murray announced the awards in Taunton on Thursday. Eleven Bristol County, Mass., communities will receive money, including Acushnet, Berkley, Easton, Fall River, Freetown, New Bedford, North Attleboro, Norton, Rehoboth, Somerset and Taunton.
Separately, Gov. Deval Patrick signed an executive order directing state investments toward areas along the route that would bring commuter rail service to Fall River, New Bedford and the surrounding areas.
“We are committed to delivering on the economic and quality of life benefits the South Coast Rail promises to provide, and today’s announcement reflects our determination to make this project a reality,” Patrick said in a news release.
The order directs the state to invest in water, wastewater, transportation, housing and economic development and land preservation, as well as the construction and leasing of state facilities in the rail project area.
“The executive order furthers our commitment by aligning funds to support smart growth and the technical assistance awards will ensure communities reach their goals for economic development, housing, and land protection,” Patrick said.
State officials say the rail extension would create at least 3,500 net new jobs by 2030, with two-thirds of those jobs in the region. Construction of the rail project would generate 7,000 to 8,000 new jobs.
Patrick has previously pledged to have the new train service running by 2016 for a route with diesel engines or by 2017 for a route with electrified engines.
Additional information is available at southcoastrail.com.
Published online Oct 1, 2010