SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – After decades of delayed planning, construction has begun on Springfield’s Union Station. 22News found out how the City finally got money to do it and how much it’s going to cost taxpayers.
With gas prices always increasing, trains are becoming a popular alternative for commuters. Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said that’s one reason the City finally got funding from the MassDOT and FTA to rebuild the station.
“Sometimes these projects take a while,” Sarno said.
Mayor Sarno and Congressman Richard Neal said it’s been since the late 1960’s that the City of Springfield has attempted to rebuild the now vacant Union Station downtown. The total project will cost taxpayers $75.2 million. Phase 1 is demolition and began in late spring. When 22News toured the old station, workers were securing a train track retaining wall. After that is secured, demolition on the rest of the building is projected to begin.
The area surrounding the retaining wall was the former mail sorting area. Postal workers would sort the mail coming off trains. That area is projected to be a new bus terminal.
Sarno said a major transportation hub could help reduce crime and will help Springfield’s economy. He said it’s one of the three major aspects of a successful city, citing a major economic project (MGM) and downtown housing as the other two aspects.
Sarno said there’s already a rail connection from North to West. He said this was part of “finally trying to realize the connection from East-West: Boston-West. That’s key. If people can traverse back and forth to Boston, half hour, 40 minutes, they’ll want to stay out here in Western Mass,” Sarno said.
Congressman Richard Neal said it’s taken a while to get money from the Federal Transit Administration, FTA.
“The responsibility of the federal government I think has been met time and again so we’ve met all of our obligations on the federal side…There’s a state component and there will be a local initiative as well, but overwhelmingly, the contribution has come from the federal government,” Congressman Neal said.
With funds secured and construction underway, the new Union Station is projected to open in July 2016.