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Massachusetts, federal and local officials yesterday broke ground on the Wachusett Commuter-Rail Station in West Fitchburg as part of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's (MBTA) Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line extension.The project will extend the line 4.5 miles west to the new station, which will be located near Routes 2 and 31. The project also entails construction of a train layover facility in Westminster and upgrades to the existing rail line to accommodate commuter service, Massachusetts Department of Transportation officials said in a press release.The $26.7 million station will feature a fully accessible, 800-foot-long high-level platform located on a new siding, which will allow direct platform-to-coach boarding without occupying the mainline track, they said. A new 360-space parking lot, passenger shelters, benches, windscreens, signage, variable message signs and lighting also will be part of the station project.Funded by the Federal Transit Administration, federal stimulus dollars and a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant, the Fitchburg extension is designed to improve transit options to communities west of Fitchburg, improve the regional economy, increase parking for commuters, and improve the Fitchburg Line train layover facility's operation and capacity, state officials said."These smart improvements will shorten commute times to Boston and improve and expand service for tens of thousands of commuters, while also rebuilding our infrastructure and creating jobs in the short and long term," said U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.)S&R Construction obtained a contract to construct the station, which is scheduled to be completed by 2014's end.MBTA will operate the commuter-rail service to Wachusett as an extension of the current Fitchburg Line service. The Fitchburg line has the oldest infrastructure in the MBTA system, state officials said.
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