Grafton and Upton Railroad expansion officially under
By Derek McLean
September 11, 2012 ... State and local officials drove a ceremonial spike into a South Main Street railroad crossing Monday, signifying the start of reconstruction of the Milford and Hopedale portion of the Grafton and Upton Railroad.
At the ceremony behind Pinz Entertainment Center at 110 South Main St., the officials touted the revitalizated section of track as a new way to bring economic development.
"I think the rebirth of the Grafton and Upton Railroad is going to be a catalyst for economic development in the area in the coming years," said state Sen. Richard Moore, D- Uxbridge.
State Rep. John Fernandes, D-Milford said he also see the revitalized rail line's potential.
"It brings new economic opportunities to places that are not readily accessible by roadway," he said.
Four years ago, Jon Delli Priscoli bought the Grafton and Upton Railroad, a 16.5-mile line that runs from North Grafton to Upton. The line has been inactive since the 1980s.
Railroad spokesman Doug Pizzi said that the ceremony was held to thank the various government agencies that helped get the project funded.
Work on the Milford and Hopedale stretch is part of the second phase of getting the railroad back in shape, Pizzi said. The first phase of the work was the stretch of track from Grafton to West Upton, he said.
On hand for Monday's ceremony was Victoria Maguire, director of the state Permit Regulatory Office, representing the state Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. The Regulatory Office last year provided $1 million in state funding, through the MassWorks Infrastructure Program, to pay for overhauling nine at-grade railroad crossings in Milford and Hopedale.
Work in Hopedale started about a week ago. Pizzi said he hopes that track and crossing construction in the town will be completed by the end of the month.
He said that he expects crossing construction in Milford will begin within the next month and hopes the entire track will be completed by the end of the year.
The state funding will save Milford and Hopedale the expense of repairing the crossings, which, in many places, were dug up or became inoperable since train use had discontinued.
"The idea is to hold the towns harmless… That’s why this grant is so important. It really does save money for the communities," said Pizzi.
Maguire said that the prospect of the railroad bringing economic development to multiple communities along the I-495 corridor was a big reason why the project received funding.
Housing and Economic Development spokesman, Jason Lefferts said, "By getting the rail line back up and operating, we’re helping bring back an important infrastructure facet through rail service that will help a number of companies in the area, by making it easier and less costly to get materials delivered."
Already, a new business called Romar Transportation Systems has decided to move to Hopedale from Allston in the coming months. The railroad will provide freight services to the business where goods will be unloaded, organized, and shipped out by truck.
This story appears courtesy of the Milford Daily News.