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Residents raise concerns at CSX hearing

Commuter rail, speedy work, safety desired

November 18, 2010
CHARLTON — For resident Susan Kozak, the state's plan to work on the North Spencer Road (Route 31) bridge over the railroad should have been used as an opportunity to expand commuter rail into Charlton and points west.

"It makes no sense to crowd the arteries going into Worcester when you could just have stations all along the way," she said.

She compared the potential impact to what happened in her native Long Island, N.Y., where the transit system did so "and it provided a tremendous amount of revenue," not only to the transit system, but also to local communities in new businesses and jobs.

"I'm just trying to put a bug in as many people's ears as possible," she added.

Kozak was speaking after Tuesday's public hearing into the project, one of 14 bridges being rebuilt along the railway from Boston to the New York line. Related hearings have already happened in Brookfield, West Brookfield and Spencer recently, and another such hearing will be announced "later but soon" for similar work at the Jones Road bridge.

According to one of the project's contractors, who said he could not be named because he's not cleared to speak publicly, the work is being done by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation under an agreement with rail owner CSX, Inc. CSX agreed to give the MBTA opportunity to run more commuter trains along the CSX lines from Worcester to Boston in exchange for MassDOT elevating the bridges to make it possible to run double-deck train cars beneath them. In some other cases, bridges aren't being elevated to gain the required height; the rail bed is being depressed instead.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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