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Fore River Railroad bridge set for an upgrade

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  May 7, 2013 03:48 PM

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The Fore River Railroad bridge lies near Commercial Street and used to be in place for a cattle crossing underneath.

A section of the Fore River Railroad will be repaired with the help of a $342,000 award from the state.

According to officials, the bridge, which takes up a small part of the 2.7-mile section of rail stretching from Quincy to Braintree, is 100 years old, and was initially constructed over a cattle crossing.

The bridge has since fallen into disrepair, and since the cattle herds that roamed the roads are long gone, plans will call for a culvert, or large pipe, to replace the bridge opening.

The railroad helps transport items out of the Fore River Shipyard, including sludge pallets manufactured from the MWRA, and soap products from Twin River, which also uses the rail line.

“The bridge itself needs to be repaired, and since there is no secondary use underneath, a culvert would be more appropriate then reconstructing an entire bridge,” said Michael Verseckes, with the Public Affairs office of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. “The culvert will allow for upland storm water to continue to pass through from the westerly side of the tracks to the east into the adjacent conservation land.”

State funding will pay for majority of the $574,000 project. According to a release, Massachusetts Water Resource Authority, which owns the railroad, will pay for the $232,000 difference.

Granted through the Industrial Rail Access Program, created in 2012 through the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the grant is part of a larger initiative from the lieutenant governor’s office to fix fright infrastructure throughout the state.

“What we recognize is rail is about jobs and economic development, and from a commuter and passenger perspective, freight is an equal part of that equation,” said Lt Governor Tim Murray. “If we can make sure we’ve got the infrastructure that’s workable, viable…you create more options for companies to grow and expand.”

Nine projects were funded this year, including five in Central and Western Massachusetts.

Murray said the idea for the program came from other states, and since coming into office, the Patrick administration has attempted to put rail on equal footing with other modes of transportation.

“In the Northeast, we won’t be building new highways or major new roads to our existing highway system. We have to get back to fully maximizing use of our rail network,” Murray said.

Murray said the rail network has gone without repair for some time, and the funding is a means to modernize the infrastructure.

“By improving access to freight rail, we are creating opportunities to make it easier and more cost-effective for companies to do business throughout Massachusetts,” said Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Greg Bialecki, in a release.

Construction on the Braintree project will begin in early 2014, with plans to put out bids this fall. The hope is to finish construction next spring.

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