MassDOT Seeking Funds for Corridor Improvements Between Springfield and Worcester

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BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), in partnership with Amtrak, and with support from CSX, has submitted an application for funding from the Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) Fiscal Year 2022 Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant program.  
 
The application seeks more than $108 million for corridor infrastructure projects planned under the "Connecting the Commonwealth: Early Actions for the Inland Route Project."
 
"Rail infrastructure projects, especially those between Springfield and Worcester, are a major part of the Commonwealth's path forward to providing service between Boston and Springfield," said Governor Charlie Baker. "I'm glad we can take advantage of the unprecedented rail funding opportunities available from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the CRISI application will help us realize our goal of faster train trips between Western and Eastern regions of the state."
 
The CRISI grant seeks more than $108 million which will go toward the total project cost of approximately $135 million.  MassDOT also plans to contribute more than $18 million and Amtrak $9 million toward the total project cost.  The application describes the planned improvements:
 
  • The Project will facilitate two Amtrak Inland Route daily round trips as a first phase of corridor improvements that improve connections within Massachusetts between Boston, Worcester, and Springfield and to communities beyond the Commonwealth in Connecticut and New York City. 
  • In addition to the two new daily trains, travel times will be improved for the existing Amtrak Lake Shore Limited, enhancing connections from Eastern Massachusetts to Pittsfield, Albany, NY, and other upstate New York communities.
  • This Project will increase operational efficiency and flexibility by reducing passenger and freight train conflicts and reducing travel times along the remaining single-track segments on the CSX-owned segment between Worcester and Springfield. These improvements are a necessary first step for increasing train frequency and speed along the Inland Route Corridor and the corridor between Boston and Albany, NY.
The Project will include infrastructure improvements that result in increased train speeds and additional corridor capacity along the 53-mile section of the CSX Boston & Albany (B&A) Line between Worcester and Springfield. The extension of existing passing siding capacity and other track improvements will increase the Maximum Authorized Speed (MAS) to 80 mph and minimize train delays along the 44-mile single-track segment. In addition, a siding will be constructed in Grafton, MA that will improve the efficiency and capacity of freight interchange with Grafton & Upton Railroad while also minimizing the freight impacts to passenger operations.
 
"We are pleased to work with Amtrak and CSX to make improvements to this portion of the CSX-owned Boston-Albany Line to begin Amtrak service along the Inland Route, connecting Boston, Worcester and Springfield, MA to Hartford, CT, New Haven, CT, and New York City. These improvements will allow for additional corridor capacity and decrease travel times between station destinations," said Transportation Secretary and CEO Jamey Tesler.  "The Commonwealth and Amtrak have had a strong partnership for many years to provide rail services in Massachusetts and connect communities across the Northeast and beyond. We look forward to the approval of this CRISI application so we can make the necessary investments to expand passenger rail options in Massachusetts while ensuring the fluidity of the freight rail network." 
 
This past summer, MassDOT announced the Biden Administration had awarded almost $1.8 million to the state through the CRISI program for preliminary engineering and environmental review for investments that will improve rail infrastructure, enhance safety and operational flexibility, and increase train capacity in Western Massachusetts near Springfield Union Station. 
 
MassDOT is providing a 50 percent match. These investments will support the Amtrak Springfield Line, the CSX Boston Albany Line, and small segments of the former Armory Branch and Knowledge Corridor.  Improvements to be made with the funding also complement the investments proposed in this latest application as well as East-West passenger rail service, should state legislators, state officials and other stakeholders decide to take necessary steps with plans to provide additional service between Albany and Boston. 

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Pittsfield Woman Pleads Guilty to Larceny

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Heidi Kushi pleaded guilty in Superior Court for two counts of larceny and was sentenced to state prison.  
 
On Monday, Jan. 30, Heidi Kushi, 57 years old of Pittsfield, pleaded guilty in Superior Court for two counts of larceny by single scheme. She was indited in July of 2019. 
 
The defendant was sentenced to 2 to 5 years in state prison, both counts concurrent, by Judge Agostini. 
 
Kushi, who began working for Donovan Construction in June 2013 as their accountant/bookkeeper, stole $138,772.72 during her time at the company. From June 1, 2013, to the date she was terminated, April 27, 2018, Kushi overpaid herself totaling approximately $38,000. From 2017 the date of termination, Ms. Kushi used the Donovan Construction bank account to pay off credit cards including cards in her elderly mother's name with the defendant identified as an authorized user. 
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