Tuesday, May 15, 2012

FRA notes Downeaster expansion milestone

Written by  Luther S. Miller, Senior Consulting Editor

Amtrak's Downeaster expansion reached a milestone Monday with the official completion of new station platforms in Brunswick and Freeport, Me., which have not seen passenger rail service since 1959.

Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo was joined by Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner David Bernhardt and local business leaders in marking construction key projects in preparation for the line expansion, which will begin serving both cities this fall.

The Downeaster expansion is funded by a $38.3 million grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) through the FRA's High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Progra m. The Recovery Act grant is being  augmented by funds from the State of Maine to cover certain costs, including the construction of the Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant passenger platforms in Freeport and Brunswick.

"The Downeaster expansion is creating jobs and spurring local economic development even before the trains arrive," said Administrator Szabo. "The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority delivered this project on time and on budget, and when the line opens in the fall it will increase tourism and mobility choices for residents from Boston to Brunswick."

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