New Bedford/Fall River Rail Project
South Coast Rail
Rail Project Information
For March 2011 Project Info. Update, See: CCATS Website – NEWS Page
For September 2010 Project Info. Update, See: CCATS Website – NEWS Page
For November 2009 Project Info. Update, See: CCATS Website - NEWS Page
For October 2009 Project Info. Update, See: CCATS Website - NEWS Page
For New October 2009 DRAFT Maps (As Viewed at September '09 Civic Engagement Meeting in Raynham) Click on Maps
The reestablishment of commuter rail service from the cities of New Bedford & Fall River to Boston has been a project in the pipelines since at least 1990. Passenger trains that ran along the Stoughton Branch railroad to serve the South Coast communities were discontinued in 1959.
In 1995, after Governor Weld promised to make good on a commitment to the project, the MBTA announced its plan to run the trains via the proposed 'Attleboro Alternative'. According to their 'Environmental Notification Form' (ENF, September 1995) “The New Bedford/ Fall River Commuter Rail project was developed with the ultimate goal of providing a safe, efficient and reliable commuter rail service for southeastern Massachusetts, from Taunton to the seaport communities of New Bedford and Fall River." 'Citizens Concerned About Tracks' (CCATS) was organized and set out to prove the Attleboro Alternative, which was the most circuitous route, could not achieve the project purpose, would be disastrous for the City of Taunton, and that Right-of-Way issues (proposed Attleboro By-Pass along National Grid High Tension Power Lines), as well as capacity constraints (on the existing Shore Line between Attleboro and Boston), would doom the project. Additionally CCATS, a regional coalition representing Attleboro, Norton, Mansfield & Taunton made the case that there were absolutely no benefits to any of our communities, and the commuter trip time for residents of New Bedford & Fall River via the proposed Attleboro Route would be too long (90 minutes). Back in 1995, this rail expansion was estimated to cost $136 million, and was to be state funded through the Transportation Bond Bill.
After five years, the campaign to alter the course of the trains was successful. And in 1999 the MBTA announced the Stoughton Alternative to be their “preferred transportation alternative". According to the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR July 1999): “The Stoughton Alternative would best meet the project objectives by providing the highest ridership and the lowest cost per new rider, and would result in the loss of less wetland area than the Attleboro Alternative." Subsequently, then Secretary of Environmental Affairs – Robert Durand required further study focused on the Stoughton Alternative, in the form of a Supplemental DEIR, which was published in July of 2000. The Final EIR (April 30, 2002) resulted in the issuance of the Certificate of the Secretary of Environmental Affairs (dated August 30, 2002) which states: “I hereby determine that the Final Environmental Impact Report submitted on this project does adequately and properly comply with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) and with its implementing regulations."
“This project has undergone seven years of intensive environmental review, starting in 1995. In 1999, when the DEIR identified the Stoughton right-of-way as the preferred route, I ordered a searching reexamination of all other feasible alternative routes in a Supplemental Draft EIR." “That analysis confirmed that the Stoughton alignment is the sole feasible alternative for service, given the need to protect capacity for high-speed rail service between Boston and New York on the Attleboro line. (The recent review of Logan Airport EOEA # 10458, has underscored the environmental urgency of maintaining high-speed rail as an alternative to air travel.)"
Since 1999, the cost of the project increased dramatically. The MBTA continued to run with a deficit, and their existing infrastructure was sorely in need of repairs and upgrades. Governor Mitt Romney allowed the project to be put on the back burner.
2007 - Enter Governor Deval Patrick, seeking to make good on his campaign promise to finally bring commuter rail service back to New Bedford & Fall River. In so doing he announced that all the alternatives would be reexamined, with the Administration's Executive Office of Transportation and Public Works becoming the lead agency in charge of the project. The Governor appointed Kristina Egan (former director of the independent Smart Growth Alliance) to be the 'South Coast Rail Project Manager'. Ms. Egan, who took the position in June of 2007, promised in August that EOT would be looking at the Attleboro and Middleboro options with an unbiased eye. “We're starting fresh again" she said. Governor Patrick has pledged to have the trains running by the year 2016, with an estimated new project cost of $1.4 billion. It is hoped that new housing and business development along the proposed rail corridor will generate additional tax revenues.
And now the decision is being made what that corridor will be.
Every project of this type must start with a 'No-Build' Scenario.
The other alternatives seriously considered include: Enhanced Bus.
And the 3 primary routes for commuter rail between New Bedford/ Fall River & Boston: The Attleboro Alternative, the Middleboro Alternative and the Stoughton Alternative.
In the 2002 Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR), the MBTA proposed a schedule of 36 trains per day, which would meet the MBTA's minimum service criteria. Operating speeds would be on average 70 MPH.
For all of the three rail alternatives the southern most segments of the route are the same. Beginning on the separate branches of existing CSX Freight track from New Bedford & Fall River, the trains would converge at Myricks Junction in Berkley, then run on the same existing freight track to Cotley Junction in Taunton. From Cotley Junction, there are basically three very different rail options from Taunton to Boston. (See color map 'The 3 Proposed Routes')
WE WILL FOCUS OUR ATTENTION ON THE ATTLEBORO ALTERNATIVE
Please also see "Revised as of April 2009" below
From Cotley Junction in Taunton, trains from New Bedford and Fall River would proceed on existing freight track (known as the “Attleboro Secondary") through the City.
This would involve:15 at-grade crossings in Taunton, 11 of them within a one and one quarter mile segment of the inner city. The greatest impacts in Taunton would be felt by residents and businesses near the freight track (which currently has one or two slow moving CSX trains running at midnight and 5 A.M.). Taunton Streets with at-grade crossings (where the train track runs across the road at street level) include: Harvey, Crane, Fremont, West Britannia, Danforth, Tremont, Oak, Porter, Cohannet & Winthrop Streets, Harrison & Somerset Avenues, as well as Weir, Ingell & Hart Streets. (See Attleboro Alternative Detail Map 2)
From Taunton, the trains would cross into the Town of Norton, again on the existing CSX track, where two slow moving trains currently pass through late at night and very early in the morning (When there is no street traffic). This segment of track in Taunton & Norton crosses through the environmentally sensitive Three Mile River Watershed designated as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) in August of 2008.
It would bring the 70 mph commuter trains through Norton with four street-level grade crossings at: Woodward & South Worcester Streets, John Scott Blvd. and Union Road. Norton residents also feeling negative impacts: Those in The Estates of Norton, along Barrows, Dean, Eddy, Harvey, Maple & Sturdy Streets, Taunton & New Taunton Avenues, as well as Charles & Meadowbrook Lanes, and Furnace Pond Way. (See Attleboro Alternative Detail Maps 1 & 2)
[All existing freight track would need to be reconstructed. According to the 2002 FEIR 'Attleboro Alternative': No portions of the existing line are in “acceptable condition for commuter rail service at required operating speeds."]
After the grade-crossing on Union Rd. in Norton, the routing of trains to reach Attleboro and join the existing main line in Mansfield, would require the construction of new double train track (where no rail bed has ever existed) along a high-tension power line Right-of-Way owned by National Grid. This proposed 2.55 mile “Attleboro By-Pass" would also require construction of new double train track (50' wide railbed), which would make a diagonal sweep at Chartley Pond (Owned by the Norton Conservation Commission), and then cross the boundary into Attleboro. The means of constructing this track across Chartley Swamp have not been identified.
The new double track (50 ft. wide w/an 8 ft. construction & maintenance road) would continue to follow the National Grid Right-of-Way through wetlands, with a crossing of Rte. 123 in Attleboro (at the Norton Town Line): likely with construction of a bridge, and another crossing: new double track at-grade level on Richardson Avenue in Attleboro (at the Norton Line), then proceed through more wetlands in the power line ROW towards Mansfield. (See Black & White Map – The Attleboro Alternative) The Attleboro By-Pass would have to take a turn as it moved into the southern portion of Mansfield, crossing over additional wetlands and noted habitat area, before finally connecting up with the existing main line to Boston (known as the Shore Line) and infusing more train traffic on the already overcrowded track through Mansfield, Foxboro & Sharon. (See Attleboro Alternative Detail Map 1)
In Mansfield the neighborhoods impacted most include: Gilbert, Otis, Elm, School & West Streets.
It should be explained that the “Attleboro By-Pass" - 2.55 miles of new double track, where no rail bed has ever existed (necessary to by-pass the Attleboro Station Stop) is a “critical element" of the proposed Attleboro Alternative. Without it, trains from New Bedford & Fall River would be forced to execute a reverse move at the Attleboro Station, resulting in a 10-minute delay (safety checks required by FRA regulations), increasing an already excessive trip time (1 hour, 30 minutes) and reducing ridership. More importantly, Amtrak which owns the track, has indicated it would not allow MBTA commuter trains to stop for extended periods of time on this main Shore Line. Additionally, taking New Bedford/Fall River trains into the Attleboro Station would disrupt existing Amtrak, MBTA and freight service on that line.
Double tracking is a necessity for the By-Pass segment of the proposed Attleboro Route in order to ensure New Bedford/Fall River trains could enter and exit the Shore Line at 45 mph, so as not to interrupt the existing Amtrak High Speed Rail Service there.
According to the March 1997 Expanded Feasibility Analysis: The Attleboro By-Pass would directly affect at least 5.4 acres of wetlands (Note: Subsequent field observations indicate this number is grossly underestimated). The same report states that it would be necessary to clear about 15 acres for the By-Pass, resulting in the reduction and fragmentation of a wildlife habitat area. This area includes conservation properties owned by the Land Preservation Society of Norton – 'Misty Meadows' & 'The Medeiros Family Wildlife Preserve' (approximately 70 acres), plus 48 acres held by The Attleboro Land Trust – 'The Nickerson Walking Woods Preserve'. (See Links Page)
According to the Fall 2007 Newsletter from the Norton Land Preservation Society – Column titled “Train, Train Go Away": The route map for the proposed New Bedford/Fall River Rail Line via the Attleboro Alternative “is more worrisome to us now than it was the last time around." “Since the last proposal some of the land affected by the proposed (new double) tracks has been donated to the Land Preservation Society and to the Attleboro Land Trust as conservation land." Almost a third of the proposed By-Pass route is “beside the Medeiros Wildlife Preserve. The junction with existing tracks at Chartley Pond cuts across land given to the LPS by Hank Wetherell (Wetherell's Island). In between these there is Nickerson Land given the LPS and the Attleboro Land Trust." “In other words, over half of the proposed new tracks impinge on land that is part of nature preserves, some of it with State Conservation Restrictions on it"… “More important… is the wide variety of tree, shrub & plant species that live there… and provide habitat for a wide range of birds, amphibians, including rare butterflies. Jean Shea, a member of the Society and trained birder who works with Mass Audubon, has counted well over a hundred kinds of birds in the meadows and woods that would be irreparably disturbed first by construction that would damage the wetlands, and then by the train traffic." (See Links Page www.nortonlandpreservation.org)
Impacts And Mitigation
Please also see "Revised as of April 2009" below
Wetlands impacts for the Attleboro Alternative were never given a full environmental review, either for the reconstruction of the Attleboro Secondary in Taunton & Norton, or the new build – Attleboro By-Pass, affecting Norton, Attleboro and Mansfield. Conservation Agents and environmentalists in all four communities need to study what information is available and weigh in with whatever knowledge and concerns they have.
Noise Impacts along the proposed Attleboro By-Pass are out dated and not credible. Back in September of 1995, the ENF predicted moderate impacts for 13 residences (2 on Richardson Ave. and 11 on Rte. 123), and severe noise impacts for 2 residences on Richardson Avenue. Since then there have been at least 35 new homes built in close proximity to the National Grid ROW. Note: Residents of Attleboro and Norton living near the power line Right-of-Way had no reason to think their homes would some day abut a train route.
Noise Impacts for the proposed commuter trains studied along the existing freight line Right-of-Way would be most significant in Taunton, but also felt in Norton. According to the 1995 ENF: Noise Sensitive Locations (those within 1,000 ft. of the Rail ROW) with moderate impacts are 87 in Norton & 348 for Taunton. Severe noise impacts are predicted at 19 locations in Norton & 160 in Taunton. NOTE: There is no comparison between the impact of one or two slow moving freight trains operating at midnight or 5 A.M. and that of 36 commuter trains traveling at 70 mph.
According to the March 1997 Expanded Feasibility Study: Abutters within 150 feet of the existing rail Right-of-Way - 121 residential (106 of them that close to an at-grade crossing) and 31 commercial (30 in same proximity to grade-crossing). The obscene number of grade-crossings, in such close proximity to one another, could mean an eight coach commuter train would be stopping traffic on three streets in the center of Taunton at the same time. Gates would come down, bells ring and train horns blast one and one quarter mile before each crossing. Taunton would not only be divided, but crippled. This, the sister city to New Bedford & Fall River whose elected officials - Rep. James Fagan & Mayor Charles Crowley have touted the benefits of the commuter rail, but only with the selection of the Stoughton Alternative: with 5 grade crossings (instead of 15) and desirable station locations, Taunton could be the 'Gateway City to the South Coast'. The Attleboro Alternative (the other extreme) with 15 grade crossings would put the residents of Taunton and the City itself on the 'Endangered Species' List.
The possibility of eliminating at-grade crossings in Taunton was ruled out. The distance between crossings is so short and their close proximity to buildings along both sides of the track mean a grade separation (tunnel under, or viaduct above) would need to extend for over a mile through the center of Taunton, requiring property takings and severe impacts, and creating permanent disruption of the city. According to the 1995 ENF: “Either alternative would be cost prohibitive, and would require a minimum of 5 years for completion."
Mansfield residents and officials do not want to see more trains added to the already over crowded line through their town. It has the highest number of MBTA trains, plus freight traffic, and most significantly – the Amtrak Electric High Speed Service between Boston and New York. Also the Conservation Commission and environmental groups must be concerned with the section of the proposed new Attleboro By-Pass which would pass through a wetland and designated priority habitat area (just southeast of connection with the main Shore Line), and public safety officials alarmed by the proposed double track grade crossing of Richardson Avenue. This road is the only direct route for Mansfield emergency vehicles to reach Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro. On average the Mansfield ambulance made a run this way five times a day. And that was before construction and opening of the new Mansfield Crossing Shopping Plaza – a huge regional draw with an L.L. Bean Store (on School Street, which becomes Elm and then Richardson Ave.)
The Attleboro Alternative offers this community 36 commuter trains running each weekday through the town, four at-grade crossings within its boundaries, plus another new double track grade-crossing on the town line (Richardson Ave.) with all the accompanying bells & blasting of train whistles, construction of a new bridge on the Attleboro line, a new double train track at Chartley Pond, plus invasion and fragmentation of conservation areas with construction of the By-Pass, and NO BENEFITS.
A proposed drop-off/pick-up depot stop at a remote location in Barrowsville would be more detrimental than beneficial to the town. The average commuter from New Bedford and Fall River has no reason to come to Norton, and residents of Norton are currently served by stations in Mansfield and Attleboro (the Attleboro one designated for expansion). Further, if the Stoughton Route is selected for South Coast Rail, residents on the eastern part of town could also have access to a station in North Easton, Taunton, or Raynham. The largest employer in Norton – Hallsmith Sysco located on S. Worcester Street, uses John Scott Blvd. for trucks coming from Rte. 123 west of town. Both S. Worcester St. and John Scott Blvd. would have at-grade crossings (See Maps & Photo Album).
It is ironic that the so-called "Attleboro Alternative" offers absolutely No Benefits to the City of Attleboro.
Construction of a bridge on Rte. 123 (The citys main artery), just west of downtown, a double track at-grade crossing on Richardson Avenue, where significant residential development has occurred (no sign of tracks or trains were there along the power line ROW), the Attleboro By-Pass causing a significant invasion of wetlands in designated conservation areas, and the proposed route (by necessity) by-passing the Attleboro Station, the only time a South Coast train would stop anywhere in Attleboro is if it hit something or someone.
The New Bedford/Fall River Rail Project is supposed to be designed to provide economic stimulus and benefits along the route, not just to the South Coast communities, but all along the corridor. The City of Attleboro and towns of Norton & Mansfield have already experienced this growth in residential & business development thanks to Rtes. 95 and 495, and access to commuter rail between Boston & Providence. Not only does the Attleboro Alternative offer no economic benefits to Attleboro, Norton or Mansfield, it would be horrific for Taunton (a city which expected to experience positive growth when the Stoughton Alternative was chosen).
The necessary acquisition or lease of property from National Grid for the 2.55 mile Attleboro By-Pass. According to the Sept. 1995 Environmental Notification Form: “The Attleboro Bypass is located within portions of a 325-foot wide overhead electric utility right-of-way (ROW) owned by New England Power (now National Grid). This ROW is an easement across private properties.** This corridor, referred to as the Brayton Point – West Medway ROW, originates from the Brayton Point electric generation facility in Westport, Mass. and extends north, connecting to several substation facilities throughout the New England Electric System. The Attleboro Bypass will generally parallel the ROW for much of its length and must also cross the ROW." It contains four separate transmission lines, each atop two H-frame wooden poles with cross arm, and one subtransmission line on single pole structures also with cross-arm construction. The pole heights range from 40 ft. to 95 Ft.**** The siting design of the Attleboro Bypass will require the relocation of some transmission line structures in the vicinity of Richardson Avenue. At-grade crossing of the rail line will be provided to allow the power company the ability to service and maintain its lines. Since the 1995 ENF filing, it has been determined that the By-Pass would need to be double track. (See Attleboro Alternative Detail Map 1)
Note: ** While much of the Right-of-Way may have been acquired by Nat'l Grid, portions of the ROW are still owned by other parties with a perpetual lease agreement. It is their understanding that this contract allows for use of the property by the power company only, not any other entity. The 1995 ENF states “ Property owners will be compensated…also New England Power and the MBTA are currently negotiating an agreement for shared use of this right-of-way." In the latest report: 'South Coast Rail, A Plan For Action' put out by EOT in April 2007, the third Action Item Listed is “Acquiring all necessary rail right-of-way and any ancillary property." But only negotiations with CSX are mentioned. And on page 36 under Costs of the Project – Action Item #3 (relative to the acquisition of ROW property) is not listed at all.
**** These same high tension power lines extend in Norton through the Shpack Superfund Site, a former dump with radioactive and chemical waste that is currently being remediated by the US Army Corps of Engineers, in conjunction with the US Environmental Protection Agency. Cleanup of the site was delayed in 2001 because workers in the field were getting zapped. (To view the Site: Visit Union Road, off S.Worcester St. Norton, at the Attleboro Line.) The National Grid pole stanchions at Shpack had to be cut and collared to raise the wires to desired height. Pole alterations, and particularly negotiations surrounding liability issues amounted to a lengthy process. It will be interesting to see if National Grid, with its reputation of attentiveness to their property and potential infringement upon it, will entertain the prospect of the State of Massachusetts. constructing double track, and then permanently operating approximately 36 MBTA commuter trains a day in their ROW. It should also be noted that where high voltage transmission lines run in close proximity to train tracks, the power lines create electromagnetic interference with train warning signal and communications systems.
According to the 2002 Final EIR, “The Attleboro Alternative is not practicable because it does not meet the minimum requirements of the MBTA's Service Delivery policy, and would result in unacceptable impacts on-time performance throughout the entire South Side commuter rail system." The Operations Simulation Plan of March 2000 indicated: It would be extremely challenging to allocate slots for New Bedford/Fall River trains (predicted to travel at maximum speeds of 80 mph) on the existing Shore Line, with Amtrak trains running at 100 and 150 mph. There are safety concerns as the faster moving trains require longer distances to stop, and also catch up to the slower moving trains much faster, resulting in the need for increased spacing between trains and therefore fewer operating slots during any given hour. Introduction of New Bedford/Fall River trains to the Attleboro Route would stress the entire system, even under unperturbed conditions. A single late train could cause delays to cascade, indicating a highly unstable operating plan that will not recover quickly or effectively from everyday random delays. A significant amount of the existing freight track through Norton & Taunton is made up of single-track segments. Right-of-Way and environmental constraints limit the ability to provide longer segments of double track, reducing operational flexibility. Also, the scheduled trip time of 90 minutes from the South Coast Cities to Boston would be the longest on the commuter rail system.
April 4, 2007 Governor Patrick and his Executive Office of Transportation and Public Works issued a 42 page report 'South Coast Rail, A Plan For Action' laying out their next steps to make good on the campaign promise of restoring commuter rail service to the Cities of New Bedford & Fall River and surrounding communities. And the administration announced the South Coast Rail Project would be managed cooperatively by the Executive Office of Transportation (EOT) and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). The April 2007 report stated that: “The Commonwealth recognizes that the final determination of a recommended alternative will occur through a combined Environmental Impact Report (EIR)/Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process." Note: The EIR is part of the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) process, while the EIS is part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) which is the federal review process. The final EIR of 2002 which had designated the Stoughton Alternative as the Preferred Route was allowed to expire after five years in August 2007. The NEW Alternatives Analysis will be conducted as part of the environmental review process, with MEPA and NEPA concurrently. “Detailed evaluations of environmental impacts will need to be completed during the EIS process for other potential routes." (Besides Stoughton) The new action initiative: EOT and the MBTA plan to thoroughly analyze the economic development potential of all rail alternatives… through a corridor-wide economic development and land use study, evaluating “the market along potential rail corridors for development – industrial, commercial, retail, and residential – and job creation."
The Planning Phase FY2007-2010: Expected to cost $17,200,000.00 to be funded through general obligation bonds of the Commonwealth and a Transportation Bond Bill. The Design and Construction Phase FY2010-2017: Expected to cost $1,418,000,000.00 including design, permitting, acquisition of necessary rights-of-way as well as rail line vehicles, and finally construction. The project will need to be financed with new revenue sources to avoid crowding out the Commonwealth's other capital investment needs. “The peak year annual cost of this project will be more than all of our bond-funded capital spending in FY2007 for higher education, affordable housing, economic development, land conservation, state office buildings and public safety combined." Operating Phase FY2017 – Thereafter: Expected to be 21 million in 2017 dollars. The potential sources of funding this cost will largely be dictated by transportation finance reforms.
As of December 30, 2007: Besides the Executive Office of Transportation and Public Safety (EOT) - now in the driver's seat for the South Coast Rail Project, and the MBTA - on the sidelines, there are 12 federal and state agencies involved in the evaluation process including (but not limited to): The US Army Corps of Engineers, US Environmental Protection Agency, Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Protection, Mass. Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Department of Conservation and Recreation – Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, Mass. Environmental Policy Act Office, The Dept. of Fish and Game, Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, Mass. Dept. of Conservation and Recreation, and The Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District. Consultants include: Vanasse, Hangen, Brustlin, Inc. (VHB) for Alternatives Analysis, Goody Clancy for Corridor Plan, and Regina Villa Associates – Assistance with Civic Engagement Meetings. Also under contract with EOT is the Central Transportation Planning Staff (CTPS) to study ridership and air quality benefits for each alternative. Inter-agency meetings were held September 25, October 23 and November 27. At the November meeting the Project Purpose was agreed upon: “To more fully meet the existing and future demand for public transportation between Fall River/New Bedford and Boston Massachusetts, to enhance regional mobility while supporting smart growth planning and developing strategies in affected communities." Note: Change in project Purpose from 1995. Does not mention the City of Taunton or even specify commuter rail. (See HISTORY: 2nd Paragraph)
In the fall of 2007, there were bus tours conducted of the three primary rail routes: Attleboro, Stoughton & Middleboro. There are monthly Southeastern Massachusetts Commuter Rail Task Force Meetings held in various locations throughout the region. (See www.srpedd.org) And nine 'Civic Engagement' Meetings (Nov. 07 – Mar. 08) sponsored by EOT in communities that would be impacted by any of the proposed commuter rail alternatives. (See www.southcoastrail.com)
Revised as of April 2009
Based on findings in the November 2008 Environmental Notification Form (ENF) the project proponent (EOT) recommended eliminating the Attleboro Alternatives from further consideration. (See: News Page on this site)
In the MEPA Certificate issued by Secretary of Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles early this month, the two Middleboro options were dropped, but it was decided the Attleboro Alternatives (both diesel and electric) should remain for further review.
A Draft EIR/EIS is expected around Labor Day 2009, which will include the 'Preferred Alternative'.
The Route, Impacts and Mitigation, Operations: The November 2008 ENF confirmed that there was insufficient capacity on the Attleboro Route (Northeast Corridor/Shore Line) to provide commuter rail service to the South Coast. The EOT and their consultant – VHB took the exercise one step further in evaluating what (if any) measures could be taken to operate more trains along this line.
The only answer was: To add a third set of tracks along the nearly 20 mile stretch of the N.E. Corridor, beginning at the connection with the Attleboro By-Pass then continuing through the towns of: Mansfield, Foxboro, Sharon, Canton, Westwood and Dedham into the Readville Section of Boston.
The exact alignment of this new third set of tracks (and extended catenary system) has yet to be determined.
New Third Rail Along Northeast Corridor Shore Line used exclusively by New Bedford/Fall River Bound Trains
Impacts on All of the Towns Along This Line from Mansfield North to Boston:
The new track construction (at the very least) would require: Rebuilding of at least 22 Railroad and Highway Bridges, Reconstruction of both the Mansfield & Sharon (and perhaps the Canton) Train Stations, As well as Rte. 106 in Mansfield, and a new bridge running parallel to the Historically Significant Canton Viaduct.
Until the exact alignment is determined, it is impossible to evaluate the environmental impacts, but the estimate of only 4.1 acres of wetland needing to be filled along this entire stretch, seems to be a gross underestimate.
The new train track would affect the Canoe River Aquifer ACEC, the Neponset River, as well as the Fowl Meadow/Ponkopoag Bog ACEC.
The third rail is also predicted to intersect or run adjacent to 13 Public Water Supply Protection Areas, with impacts to the municipalities of: Mansfield, Sharon, Canton, Westwood and Dedham.
And of course, there is the obvious issue for all of the communities along this corridor: of having an additional 36 trains running through their towns each weekday.
Not only is this alternative cost prohibitive and unrealistic in terms of construction time and disruption to existing service, it quite simply is an unfathomable engineering feat to even imagine it being seriously considered.
Also new to the equation with the November ENF - is the consideration of electric (rather than diesel operated) trains along each of the routes. While this model appeals to those who maintain any new rail system should be more environmentally friendly, the electric options would have a larger footprint and require the filling of additional wetlands. The cost would also be significantly higher, and operation of electric trains would be a new system for the MBTA, whose entire fleet is diesel engines.
With our focus on the Attleboro Route, we have not spent much time on the electric option, because it would seem to be virtually impossible to construct the catenary through downtown Taunton.
The electric train variation is not even worth considering for the Attleboro Alternative as it would increase the already fatal flaws of this option: cost, build time and disruption to existing service.
Home Page/Bottom – Various Options
Also – Reference Materials Section:
Environmental Notification Form
Of Particular Interest In The ENF:
Text: Chapter 4.6 and Chapter 5
New Third Track – Canton Viaduct (Fig. 4-18, 4-19)
New Third Rail – Mansfield (Fig. 4-20)
Existing Freight Track – Taunton (Fig. 5-4 d,e Fig. 5-5 a,b)
Attleboro By-Pass – (Fig. 5-5c)
N.E. Corridor – Mansfield to Boston (Fig. 5-6 a,b,c,d,e)
On This Web Site/News and Newspaper Pages
South Coast Rail Project
Manager Kristina Egan with EOT can be reached at:
Ten Park Plaza, Suite 4150, Boston, MA 02116-3973
Tel. (617) 973 – 7314
FAX (617) 973 – 8035
Ms. Egan's Boss: Jeff Mullan, Secretary
Executive Office of Transportation and Public Works
Ten Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116
Project Manager for the Army Corps:
USACE, New England District
696 Virginia Road
Concord, MA 01742-2751
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Governor Deval Patrick
Executive Office, State House, Room 360
Boston, MA 02133
Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray
Boston, MA 02133