MassDOT Awards $3 Million for Expanding Industrial Rail and Freight Access Opportunities

Eight grants support increased capacity for economic growth, nearly 100 new jobs

Boston – Today, the Baker-Polito Administration’s Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) announced 8 industrial freight grants totaling just over $3 million as part of the 2017 Industrial Rail Access Program (IRAP) awards. The program supports projects that expand or improve rail or freight access, economic opportunity and job growth, requiring a private sector match of at least 40%.

“This unique program supports economic development and job growth across the Commonwealth by expanding and improving access to the rail infrastructure so important to the success of our employers,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Freight rail shipping is a priority for the competitiveness of companies large and small, connecting their sites and products to the marketplace so they can thrive, grow and create additional job opportunities for our residents.”

“Taking trucks off the road helps the Commonwealth reduce congestion on our roadways and lower greenhouse gases,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Partnering with these eight companies and communities through the Industrial Rail Access Program is a win for employment opportunities in Commonwealth, and for communities looking for economic development and congestion relief.”

Created as part of the 2012 Transportation Bond Bill, IRAP provides grants to railroads, rail shippers and municipalities that identify a public benefit gained through improved rail transportation usage or economic growth that would be realized through improved access to rail assets.

“The IRAP grants provide unique opportunities for public and private partners to identify and fund key industrial rail projects that seek to build rail infrastructure, provide access for transportation and freight service delivery, and further support economic development in the Commonwealth,” said MassDOT Rail and Transit Administrator Astrid Glynn. “MassDOT congratulates the grant recipients and looks forward to the future development of these key transportation projects.”

This year’s recipients are geographically diverse, and include railroads and shipping/receiving companies. Details for each award are as follows:

• PanAm Southern Ayer Freight Hub Congestion Relief – Ayer: $500,000
This project will increase the capacity of the yard leading to additional rail volumes, and will improve service to the customers across the Pan Am system that are served by the 89,000 railcars that move through the yard each year. The project will also increase reliability and volume of rail shipments.

• PanAm/CIP Saratoga Boulevard LLC Rail Connection to Warehouse – Devens: $431,760
This project will create a rail connection for a new 262,000 square foot paper-handling warehouse operation, as well as an adjoining warehouse space at Devens. The project is expected to increase rail shipments and facilitate the creation of new jobs and additional rail cars annually. 50 warehouse jobs will be created.

• Mid-States Packaging Distribution Center Track Rehab –Auburn: $105,600
This project will result in the expansion of rail service to an existing rail customer leading to increased rail traffic, reduced truck traffic and additional rail-based jobs. The project will provide an increased volume of railcars. 16 jobs are expected to be created as a result of this IRAP project.

• Tri-County Recycling Track Expansion – Ware: $123,720
This project will expand the capacity of a recycling center, leading to increased rail traffic, reduced truck traffic, doubled frequency and increased volume of rail cars and additional rail-based jobs. 3-4 new jobs will be created at Tri-County Recycling to meet the increased carloads handled with the rail new spur.

• Pioneer Valley Railroad Knowledge Corridor Service Interchange – Holyoke: $495,000
This project will result in increased rail traffic and reduce associated truck traffic by improving the connectivity between two rail systems (Pan Am Railways and Pioneer Valley Railroad), therefore offering more efficient and improved service to their rail shippers. The project will also provide safety improvements and an increased volume of railcars.

• PanAm/Springfield Terminal Railways Turnout Tracks – Lowell: $405,870
This project will rehabilitate two turnout tracks on the freight main line in Lowell, thereby decreasing train congestion, improving capacity for freight and passenger operations, and decreasing idling on the main line near residential neighborhoods.

• PanAm Railways Yard Tracks 2-4 – Lawrence: $494,610
This project will provide environmental benefits due to deceased idling and reduce community impacts from rail operations. The project will also provide increased reliability of freight rail shipments and improve the Yard’s state of good repair.

• United Materials Management Recycling Center Rail Facility – Holyoke: $500,000
The project will extend the existing rail spur into a new expanded state-of- the art recycling facility that will handle non-recyclable construction debris and recyclable. municipal solid waste. UMM’s expanded facility will ship 650 railcars annually to end markets eliminating 2,000 truck trips and will facilitate 6-10 new hires.

The program, now in its fifth year, leverages private investment to ensure that industries have the infrastructure needed to transport freight and materials, and also assist in refurbishing tracks.