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The Massachusetts Department of Transportation's (MassDOT) board authorized MassDOT Secretary and Chief Executive Officer Richard Davey to execute an agreement to purchase the Berkshire Line from the Housatonic Railroad Co.
The acquisition is a major step toward delivering passenger-rail service between New York City and the Berkshires, state officials say.The agreement includes $12.1 million to purchase the line and an estimated $35 million for initial track improvements, MassDOT officials said yesterday in a post on the agency's blog. The funds will come from the 2014 Transportation Bond Bill.The Berkshire Line extends 37 miles from the Connecticut border in Sheffield through Great Barrington, Stockbridge, Lee and Lenox to Pittsfield, where it joins a CSX Transportation mainline."Studies have shown that a Berkshire County rail connection to New York City would be a winner, with more than one million rides annually," said Davey. "This purchase and the initial upgrades in the line represent historic steps toward improved access to the Berkshires for tourists and residents alike."The initial track improvements will permit the operation of passenger trains but serve freight trains until the Connecticut portion of the project is completed, state officials said. A final round of track improvements will be required along with improvements on the Connecticut portion of the line before passenger-rail service can begin. A service start date will depend on the completion of those projects.The Transportation Bond Bill included $113 million for the purchase and Massachusetts portion of the track improvements.