Debate Continues Over Southcoast Rail Plan
A "Commonwealth Conversation" on transportation issues took place in New Bedford on Tuesday. About 80 people spent the afternoon at the UMass Star Store Campus discussing a variety of transportation priorities. Most of those in attendance agree, the number one priority for this region is Southcoast Rail.
The project to extend commuter rail service from Boston to New Bedford and Fall River has been talked about for years, and more debate is likely in the works.
The latest proposal would direct trains from Fall River and New Bedford to Middleboro and then on to Boston. State Senator Mike Rodrigues of Fall River attended the forum on Tuesday and supports the Middleboro concept, even though it might might make travel time to Boston a little longer.
"If you can get me on a train that will deliver me to Boston in under two hours, where I can use wi-fi, and the car is air-conditioned or heated, and I can get work done and relax, I'll take that," said Rodrigues.
Also at the forum was State Senator Mark Montigny of New Bedford who says Southcoast Rail was studied for a lot of years by smart people and they concluded the route through Stoughton was the best option. Montigny says while the Middleboro option has lots of "cheerleaders," there are still many questions that need answers.
"I've never seen in my career a bunch of people jumping on board an option without having key questions answered. How much will it cost, when will it get done, and what will the ridership be, these are fundamental questions," says Montigny.
Tuesday's forum was among several around the state to determine what are the Commonwealth's top transportation priorities. Montigny hope the process will lead to serious discussions about how to pay for Southcoast Rail.