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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Pittsfield ConCom OKs Zebra Mussel Treatment

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Conservation Commission has OKed a zebra mussel pesticide treatment in Onota Lake if the invasive species are confirmed.

On Thursday, the panel approved a notice of intent application for the use of EarthTec QZ within a specified treatment area of the lake.  

"We're not entirely 100 percent sure that there is an infestation of zebra mussels at Onota Lake. Last September, a water sample was taken and the DNA of zebra mussel was detected in that water sample. This was a water sample taken near the boat ramp at Burbank Park. Subsequent water samples were taken later in the fall and very early this spring, there were still non-detects in those water samples for DNA showing the presence of zebra mussels," Park, Open Space and Natural Resource Program Manager James McGrath said.

"We continue to, most recently as this Tuesday, we are sampling for zebra mussel EDNA and we should know the results of those samples certainly by early next week."

McGrath addressed the commission with a sense of urgency, as the lake is currently around 52 degrees Fahrenheit and the zebra mussels begin to activate around 55 degrees Fahrenheit.  He described it as "an opportunity to take what could be a potential massively serious ecological issue at Onota Lake and nip it in the bud."

"What we're proposing here is a collaborative approach where there are many stakeholders involved," he said. "This is not Jim McGrath proposing the use of EarthTec QZ at the lake. This is something we have been very deliberative about."

The application was continued from the previous meeting so that it could be filed as a state Ecological Restoration Limited Project.

"Really what it means is that it's eligible, which I think this project meets the eligibility requirements, it affords the right to not have to comply with general performance standards for the resource area that's being impacted," Conservation Agent Robert Van Der Kar said.

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