Mayor Submits Testimony on West-East Passenger Rail

Western Massachusetts Rail Commission Chair William Straus (left), Rep. Natalie Blais, Chair Brandon Crighton, Sen. Jo Comerford and FRCOG Executive Director Linda Dunlavy

Mayor Roxann Wedegartner has submitted the following testimony to the Western Massachusetts Passenger Rail Commission, which convened its third of six public meetings Tuesday in Northampton:

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to speak to you here in Western Massachusetts. I am Mayor Roxann Wedegartner from the City of Greenfield, home to the multi-modal John Olver Transportation Center, and I’m here today to give you my enthusiastic support for passenger rail expansion from this area east to Boston through Greenfield. Having that service in Greenfield will be a game-changer for tourism and our economic development, especially fitting in with our robust Downtown Revitalization Plan, which already includes a major MA DOT infrastructure investment on our Main Street. We saw a glimpse of that benefit in the last two years, during the pandemic, as people from cities east and south of us who could work remotely packed up and moved west and north to “the country.” Many have remarked that it was Greenfield’s access to rail service and our cost-effective, efficient city-owned high speed internet service that allowed that to happen.

Greenfield has enjoyed having Amtrak’s Valley Flyer as a North/South stop in Greenfield for many years. To envision a day, hopefully in the near future, when rail travel could be both North/South and East/West is to see our small city thrive. Greenfield serves as an important commercial, industrial, and health care hub for all of Franklin County.

I also want to strongly encourage you to recommend developing a West/East Passenger Rail Authority, with members representing regional stakeholders from Central and Western Massachusetts. With such a regionally focused Authority working collaboratively with us and our regional Council of Governments, you will help this region create a more enhanced and efficient public transportation system and more sustainable economic development.

Invest in us. We won’t let you down.

The legislature established the commission to investigate and receive public testimony concerning potential public entities with the ability to design, permit, construct, operate and maintain passenger rail service proposals from the East-West Passenger Rail Study Final Report.