Governor Names West-East Rail Director

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BOSTON — The Healey-Driscoll administration is naming a director to move forward with the West-East Rail initiative.  
Andy Koziol, current director of rail and transit, is expected to lead the charge to extend passenger rail service from Boston to Worcester, Springfield and Pittsfield.
In her first budget, Gov. Maura Healey worked with the Legislature to secure funding for staff support for the project, including creating the director position. 
The state Department of Transportation recently received a $108 million federal grant toward undertaking the necessary trackwork to enable two daily Amtrak round trips between Boston and New Haven, Conn., with a stop in Springfield, dubbed the Inland Route. 
The Boston & Albany Corridor has also been accepted into the Federal Railroad Administration's Corridor ID Program, which will lay the necessary groundwork to expand passenger rail operations west of Springfield to Pittsfield and beyond. The Healey-Driscoll administration also included $12 million for the Palmer and Pittsfield rail projects. 
Koziol joined MassDOT's Rail & Transit Division in June 2023 with a goal to advance passenger rail initiatives and improve transportation options across Massachusetts. He has more than 15 years of transportation planning experience centered on implementing safe, equitable multimodal transportation, with a primary concentration on commuter rail and intercity rail planning.
"We have never been closer to making West-East Rail a reality, and I am pleased to see Andy take on this important role to continue building on our progress," said Healey in a statement. "He will be a strong leader for West-East Rail and for the people of central and Western Massachusetts who are eager to see this vision come to life. This rail connection will expand access to job and housing, spur economic development in our communities, and strengthen our state's competitiveness." 
Before joining MassDOT, Koziol worked for 12 years at the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, where he collaborated closely with the MBTA and Amtrak on rail service and capital planning. His experiences there included managing the planning and design of passenger rail stations, short- and long-range service planning on the Northeast Corridor, and success with obtaining federal grants for rail initiatives. Previously, Koziol spent three years working as a transportation analyst with the Cape Cod Commission.
As the West-East Rail director within the Rail & Transit Division, Koziol will provide comprehensive oversight and coordination of ongoing and future projects in support of the project and the Compass Rail program with MassDOT staff and consultant support. He will be responsible for implementing federal grants, such as the federal Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) awards received for the Inland Route and Springfield Union Station area improvements and lead the pursuit of additional federal resources to advance the effort to expand passenger rail service. 
"Andy's competence, experience and passion for transportation are exactly what we need in this crucial moment for our state's infrastructure," saidransportation Secretary Monica Tibbits-Nutt. "West-East Rail will be transformational for Massachusetts. It will help better connect our rural communities to economic opportunities, provide additional seamless travel routes by train, and encourage more travelers to opt for public transportation. I thank Andy for all his great work at MassDOT thus far and cannot wait to work with him further."
West-East Rail is an integral component of Compass Rail, the state's overall vision for intercity passenger rail services. Compass Rail includes existing north-south services along the Knowledge Corridor in Western Massachusetts as well as proposed west-east services between Boston and Albany, New York. 
Born and raised in Massachusetts, Koziol holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Master of City and Regional Planning degree from Rutgers University.
"The importance of West-East Rail cannot be understated," said Koziol. "I look forward to continuing to work with my dedicated colleagues at MassDOT, and other champions of the overall Compass Rail program, to deliver for the people of Massachusetts the connectivity they deserve."


Tags: MassDOT,   passenger rail,   

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West Side Residents Build Ideal Neighborhood At Zoning Session

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

Program manager James McGrath opens the session at Conte Community School.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Residents mapped out a West Side they would like to see during an input session this week, utilizing multi-use properties to create robust density.

Held at Conte Community School on Monday, this was the second meeting of a project to examine zoning in the neighborhood. The Department of Community Development, in partnership with Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, has been working with an urban planning and design consulting team on the effort that will conclude on June 30.

"This is a really important project for your neighborhood," Park, Open Space, and Natural Resource Program Manager James McGrath said.

Multifamily houses with spaces to accommodate a small business were popular. A community center, church, year-round farmer's market, and even a place to draw in commerce appeared as elements on the tabletop street.

An emphasis was also placed on the amount of immigrants coming to the area in need of housing.

Max Douhoure, community outreach coordinator for Habitat, explained that he grew up in Africa where people liked to live together, which his build reflected.

"I wanted to improve their conditions," he said. "That’s what I did."

During the first meeting in November, the team heard desires for businesses and commercial uses — including a need for small, family-owned business support. The session provided an overview of what zoning is, what zoning can and can't do, how zoning can improve the community, and the impact on residents.

"Today's exercise is really about creating spaces in buildings and on properties to do a combination of residential [uses] that meet the needs and commercial uses that meet the needs of the neighborhood,"  Emily Keys Innes, principal of Innes Associates explained.

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