Sen. Lesser Says MassDOT's Transportation Congestion Study Is "Latest Sign that East-West Rail Is A Necessity"

BOSTON –– Following Gov. Charlie Baker’s unveiling of the long-awaited traffic congestion study by the state Department of Transportation (MassDOT), Senator Eric P. Lesser called it “the latest sign that East-West Rail is a necessity.”

The study reflects the torturous experiences commuters in our state encounter on a daily basis. MassDOT researchers say we’ve reached a “tipping point” where most travel routes are unreliable well beyond rush hour, hindering access to employment and other necessary destinations.

In addition, the backlog of congestion may prohibit Massachusetts from reaching its greenhouse gas emission targets.

Sen. Lesser, who has championed East-West passenger rail since running for office in 2014, says this sobering study is another reminder of the project’s urgency.

“In addition to spurring our economy in the western part of the state, East-West Rail would greatly alleviate the congestion crisis in the Greater Boston area,” said Sen. Lesser. “We need to make it possible to commute efficiently into Boston from all parts of our state. MassDOT has already proven that high-speed rail is possible to achieve, and this is just the latest sign that East-West Rail is a necessity.”

The Baker study was commissioned in August 2018. Researchers examined the steady increase in traffic around the state from 2013-18.

MassDOT is also currently conducting a study to examine the costs and benefits of implementing high-speed rail service from Boston to Springfield and Pittsfield. At an East-West Passenger Advisory Committee meeting last month, six plans were presented, including one that would bring 16 roundtrip trains through Springfield’s Union Station every day traveling at a maximum speed of 150 miles per hour. The commute would take as little as 80 minutes, which is less time than many drivers spend sitting idly on the “Mass Pike” as they attempt to travel in and out of Boston during the workweek.

A trip from Pittsfield to Boston would take approximately two hours and 10 minutes.

“East-West rail would drive job creation throughout the state with thousands of new construction jobs, and make it far easier for people to get to their current jobs, taking potentially thousands of cars off the road,” said Sen. Lesser. “When it comes to solving our transportation crisis, we need to think big, and that’s what East-West rail is all about.”

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Eric Lesser