Senator Brownsberger attended the 9/12 announcement by Governor Patrick and other state, local and federal officials that a $20 million federal grant will add an 800-foot commuter rail platform to Ruggles Station. The station is a vital transportation hub serving the Longwood Medical and Academic Area represented by the senator. We share this press release from the Governor’s office.
GOVERNOR PATRICK ANNOUNCES FUNDING FOR RUGGLES COMMUTER RAIL STATION IMPROVEMENTS TO INCREASE RIDERSHIP AND IMPROVE ACCESS TO EDUCATIONAL AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES
USDOT Secretary Announces Award of $20 Million TIGER Grant for New Platform
BOSTON – Friday, September 12, 2014 – Governor Deval Patrick today joined US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx to announce a $20 million federal Transportation Improvement Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant to fund the Ruggles Station Commuter Rail Platform Project. Ruggles Station currently has only two platforms, limiting the number of trains that can utilize the stop. The design and construction of a new platform will increase capacity, improving access to education and jobs in the Longwood Medical Area and surrounding neighborhoods.
“The vision set forth by President Obama for the TIGER grant program called for smart investment in transportation that will lead to expanded growth and opportunity,” said Governor Patrick. “The improvements that will be made to Ruggles encapsulate that vision – shortening commutes, increasing transit access and catalyzing growth for this neighborhood and the city.”
The grant will fund the construction of a new 800-foot Commuter Rail platform, replace existing elevators and make other necessary improvements to the busy, 27-year old transit facility.
“As uncertainty about the future of long-term federal funding continues, this round of TIGER will be a shot in the arm for these innovative, job-creating and quality of life-enhancing projects,” said Secretary Foxx. “Ruggles Station’s capacity is so squeezed – and so few trains can enter – that some commuters have to overshoot the station and double back to find a train that gets them home or to work or to school and TIGER is going to fix that problem. For every project we select, however, we must turn dozens more away – projects that could be getting done if Congress passed the GROW AMERICA Act, which would double the funding available for TIGER and growing the number of projects we could support.”
Following the construction of the new platform, a significantly increased number of Commuter Rail trains will be able to stop at Ruggles, making the station a more convenient alternative for thousands of people traveling to and from the Columbus Avenue/Lower Roxbury corridor. The project will also enhance accessibility, upgrade safety and security along paths of travel and address much needed repairs both inside and outside of the multi-modal station, which is served by 14 MBTA bus routes, seven private bus shuttles, Orange Line and Commuter Rail trains.
“Federal funding will help improve service at Ruggles Station, which will make a real difference for families and businesses both nearby and throughout the city,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “The TIGER Grant program is a terrific example of how the federal government can be a strong partner for our state, cities, and towns, by making key investments in transportation infrastructure. The Patrick Administration did great work to get this grant, and I was happy to support this effort.”
“My thanks to Governor Patrick, Mayor Walsh, and the MassDOT and MBTA teams whose leadership to make greater Boston more accessible through public transportation is unmatched,” said Senator Edward Markey. “This new grant for the Ruggles Station will help breathe new life into the Roxbury community, making it an even greater place to live, work and play. This investment will build the foundation for growth, and connect the community so its residents can share new prosperity in the region.”
“This federal funding will help revitalize Boston’s Ruggles Station which will improve the overall commuter experience,” said Congressman Michael Capuano. “The DOT received $9.5 billion in applications, 15 times the amount of federal funding available. We fought hard to deliver resources from this highly competitive program and I thank Secretary Foxx for supporting the project”.
Because of limited platform capacity, more than half of today’s inbound Commuter Rail trains travel directly through Ruggles Station without stopping, forcing hundreds of daily commuters to return to Ruggles from Back Bay Station via the Orange Line. Today, only 29 of the 69 weekday inbound Commuter Rail trains stops at Ruggles Station, despite passing through it. Ruggles Station ranks as the fourth busiest destination station in the MBTA Commuter Rail system.
“Recognizing the importance of Ruggles to the community and local economy, MassDOT prioritized this project when working with our federal partners in the TIGER program,” said MassDOT Secretary & CEO Richard A. Davey. “Today’s award signifies the important role cooperation between federal and state agencies plays in making effective investments in our transportation future.”
“The proximity of the station to Northeastern University and major health care institutions makes this station a vital transportation hub,” said MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott. “The new train platform and other upgrades will improve and increase access to educational opportunities and jobs in the Longwood Medical and Academic Area.”
The Longwood Medical and Academic Area is the largest employment center near Ruggles Station, and Northeastern University is preparing for future growth with major construction projects on campus and an expansion of its continuing education programs. As part of the design of the second Commuter Rail platform, Northeastern University is coordinating its own campus construction efforts with the Ruggles Station project team. Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun said the school is prepared to contribute up to $6.3 million to provide public access to the new platform and refurbish Ruggles Station.
“At Northeastern, partnering with the community is who we are,” said Northeastern President Aoun. “We want to be the catalyst for a Columbus Avenue renaissance that benefits the community, the university and the region as a whole. We have made multimillion dollar investments in the Columbus Avenue corridor and we plan to invest even more.”
After completing the project’s design work next spring, the MBTA will solicit bids from construction contractors. The two-year construction period will begin in the fall of 2015.
“The City of Boston has invested considerable resources in the revitalization of Dudley Square, and this addition is a further catalyst for Roxbury’s success,” said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “And the surrounding neighborhoods share a common need for improved transportation options that connect people to jobs, housing, and community resources. This TIGER grant is a major federal investment that will make a significant contribution to the growth and revitalization of not only our neighborhoods, but to the entire region. I thank all of our state and federal partners for making this project possible.”
The TIGER Program is a competitive transportation infrastructure program under which states compete to receive discretionary funding for “shovel ready” projects. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014, signed by President Barack Obama in January 2014, includes a $600 Million authorization for TIGER grants. Priority consideration was given to applications that exhibit investments in connectivity to centers of employment and education/services that stimulate long term job growth, especially in economically distressed areas. Secretary Foxx traveled to Boston to make the announcement alongside Governor Patrick, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Edward Markey, MassDOT Secretary Davey and MBTA General Manager Scott.
The Ruggles project is also a critical element in MassDOT’s statewide mode shift policy goal of tripling the share of non-auto based travel in Massachusetts by 2030. By expanding the capacity and access at Ruggles, the convenience and availability of transit becomes a distinctly viable alternative to those who would otherwise commute by car.
“I am very pleased that the Patrick Administration has been investing in these very important urban transportation improvements,” said Senator Will Brownsberger.
“With $9.5 billion worth of TIGER grant applications nationwide, the demand for infrastructure investment is clear,” said Senator Thomas M. McGee. “Without the work of the Patrick Administration and our Congressional delegation to secure this highly competitive TIGER grant, this important project would have languished due to lack of funding. Instead, we can celebrate that this project will be underway and the improvements at Ruggles station will soon give greater transit options to thousands of people accessing the medical area, higher education, and the jobs that keep our economy moving.”
“I am certain that commuters and students in eastern Massachusetts and the South Coast will benefit from savings in time and energy once the project is completed,” said Representative Bill Straus. “I am pleased to see this worthwhile project receive the support it deserves, and I commend the Governor and his administration for their efforts in securing these federal dollars.”