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State and federal officials joined to cut the ribbon on the new John W. Olver Transit Center on Friday in Greenfield, including U.S. Rep. James McGovern, left, Olver, Gov. Patrick, Lt. Gov. Murray, EOEEA Secretary Rick Sullivan, FTA's Peter Rogoff and state stimulus chief Jeffrey Simon.

New Greenfield Net-Zero Transit Hub Named For Olver

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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U.S. Rep. John Olver, above, lends his name to the new Greenfield center after securing federal funds for its construction. Below Gov. Deval Patrick tours the facility with FRTA Administrator Tina Cote.
GREENFIELD, Mass. — A plethora of elected officials descended on Greenfield on Friday to cut a ribbon on the nation's first net-zero energy transit center.

The newly built $15 million, copper-clad John W. Olver Transit Center on Bank Row was built with $12.8 million in federal stimulus funds and will eventually bring passenger rail back to the area.

U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, was joined by dozens of public officials including Gov. Deval Patrick, Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, U.S. Rep. James McGovern, D-Worcester, Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration Peter Rogoff, state Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru, and state Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst, in a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Department of Transportation Secretary Richard A. Davey was the emcee.

"These are the kinds of investments we need to make not just across the Commonwealth but all across America," Rogoff said, adding that the new center "embodies" what President Barack Obama envisions for development.

Buildings like this one will help end dependence on foreign energy, bring communities together and is part of Obama's "all of the above" plans to lower gas prices, he said. Rogoff called on Republicans to pass the new transportation bill that will overhaul the federal transit aid.

The center, which opens on Monday, will house the Franklin Regional Transit Authority and the Franklin Regional Council of Governments. Eventually, it will be a stop on the Amtrak passenger rail and, North Berkshire County officials hope, a spur to restore passenger rail west through the Hoosac Tunnel.

Officials raved about the economic impact the center will have on the region.

"This will open up Franklin County and Greenfield in a way we've never seen before," Murray said.

The 24,000 square foot building features 7,300 square feet of photovoltaic panels, 22 geothermal wells and other energy efficiency technology — basically "everything they could think of," said Rosenberg.

"We're taking a very old pastime, construction, but we're looking at it in new ways," said Jeffrey Simon, director of the state's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. "It is also a demonstration of the possible."

Patrick said these types of building are the future of both the state and the country.

"I am a great believer that in our commonwealth and indeed our country that we have to be about building our own future," Patrick said.

Administrator for the Federal Transportation Administration Peter Rogoff speaking on behalf of the Obama administration, said this project is exactly what they had hoped would happen with  stimulus funds.
As for Greenfield officials, Linda Dunlavy, executive director of the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, said they are "humbled and grateful" that they were chosen for a building that is the first of its kind.

The state-of-the-art building is a "fitting tribute" to Olver, Patrick said. Officials raved about Olver's contributions to the state during his 44 years in state and federal office. Olver has championed transportation not just in his district but all across the state, they said, and each had stories of meetings they've had with the former professor.

"There isn't a transportation project in Massachusetts that doesn't have John Olver's fingerprints on it," McGovern said, and then joked about working so closely with him that they've even been to jail together.
Rosenberg characterized Olver as model for other officials because of his "integrity." His constituency never had to worry about what he was doing in Washington, Rosenberg said, and hoped that in the future, when people ask why the building is named for Olver, those who remember him can tell the stories.

He was sure that they will say of the retiring congressman, "He was an exemplary public servant."

For Olver, the center is a great honor, he said, because it reflects his own values in transportation and energy.

"This is the direction our policies should be going," Olver said. "This project is truly a model for the rest of the country... I hope it will be replicated."

Tags: bus,   Olver,   passenger rail,   transit,   transportation,   

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MCLA Presents Vadnais Environmental Issues Lecture with Vivek Shandas

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts will present the annual Vadnais Environmental Issues Lecture with Vivek Shandas at 6 p.m. on Sept. 23 in Murdock Hall Room 218. A remote viewing option is also available. 
Vivek Shandas is a professor of climate adaptation and the founding director of the Sustaining Urban Places Research (SUPR) Lab at Portland State University. Professor Shandas specializes in developing strategies to reduce exposure of historically marginalized communities to climate-induced extreme events. He has published over 100 articles, three books, and his research has been featured in the New York Times, National Geographic, Scientific American, and other national and local media.  
Professor Shandas serves as chair of the city of Portland's Urban Forestry Commission, technical reviewer for federal and state agencies, and a board member on several non-profit organizations.
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