BOSTON — The Providence/Stoughton Line would be electrified and the South Attleboro commuter rail station upgraded under a series of resolutions unanimously approved by the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board this week.
The board approved $4 million for a full design of South Attleboro Station, MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesaturo said in an email. The additional funding was a part of a larger package that was amended by the MBTA board, details of which were not immediately available. The renovation of South Attleboro Station includes a new pedestrian bridge, stairs and elevators. The scope of the design work also includes the parking lot and new drop off/pick up areas for bus riders, Pesaturo said.
Rep. Jim Hawkins, D-Attleboro, who has been fighting for the renovation, appreciated the teamwork with other legislators. However, he mentioned that it’s not yet “the end of the story.”
“Until I see steel girders piled up next to it, I’m not done with my job.” Hawkins said.
The control board also adopted five resolutions, not only aiming at more frequent and electric-powered service but also focusing on additional parking spaces, station connections and high-level accessible platforms.
In the short term, the MBTA would pursue electrifying the Fairmount Line, the Providence/Stoughton Line, and a section of the Newburyport/Rockport Line between Boston and Lynn as the first pilot programs.
Although the pilots would be the first phase of transformation, no starting date has been set.
MBTA General Manager Steven Poftak said his “educated guess” is that it could take two to four years to acquire electric trains for the programs. Some board members urged the launch of pilot programs to “test and learn” by renting or leasing cars instead of waiting.
“Let’s see what happens. Let’s go at it,” said board Chairman Joseph Aiello. “If we keep studying and studying and studying and don’t commit ourselves to go to implementation, we’ll be here in 20 years again at the same point.”
Poftak also mentioned it would cost approximately half a billion dollars to fully transform all stations on Providence/Stoughton Line into high-level platforms in order to match with electric trains and improve accessibility.
Other resolutions include establishing a commuter rail transformation office and a bus transformation office. One resolution urged state lawmakers to support Gov. Charlie Baker’s transportation bond bill proposed in July, which members said is crucial to ensuring success for the major infrastructure work.
Advocacy group TransitMatters said in a statement that this is an important step toward transforming the current antiquated commuter rail system.
“We will continue to push hard for a new service delivery model based on frequent all-day service, replacing today’s dirty diesel locomotives with more cost-effective electric multiple units and providing better service with high-level platforms at every station.”
CORRECTION: This story has been updated. The original story indicated the $4 million was for a full renovation. The $4 million is for a full design.