Middleborough Final Stop for Public Comment on South Coast Rail
MassDOT and the MBTA held their final public meeting regarding future plans for South Coast Rail in Middleborough Thursday evening.
Around 50 people were in the crowd in the Middleborough High School auditorium, though many were local elected officials sounding off for the final time before the public comment period closes on September 30th.
The state has taken the advice of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to pursue plans for the Stoughton Electric Line, though it continues to investigate a possible Middleborough extension.
Opinions differed among elected officials present about which route to take.
State Senator Marc Pacheco said he supports the Stoughton line since millions of tax dollars have already been dedicated to the project and the long-term impact it will leave behind.
"This is not something we are just going to use for a year or two, or fifteen years, or twenty years, this is a generational investment that's going to be made with our tax dollars and that generational investment should be there to last for generations," Pacheco said.
Others shared their support for the Middleborough line as it would benefit other communities across the region.
"This in an opportunity to extend commuter rail service not just to New Bedford and Fall River but also areas such as Wareham, Carver, Rochester, Marion, Mattapoisett and further down Cape," said State Rep. Susan Gifford from Wareham.
Others advocating for the Middleborough line added the importance of keeping the current Middleborough/Lakeville commuter stop in place.
Not everyone saw the project as necessary however. Lakeville selectman Aaron Burke suggested that rather than invest in a multi-billion dollar rail project, the state would be better off investing in cities such as New Bedford, Fall River, Taunton and Brockton.
"I'm up here to advocate for the state legislature to consider the option of investing that money into the infrastructure of the cities that are on the Southcoast," Burke said. "What would $3.4 billion do to improve the quality of life in those communities?"