Boston (North-South Station Rail Link)
Boston - North Station - South Station Rail Link
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) is studying transit options in the corridor between North Station and South Station in downtown Boston. The alternatives include various configurations of a rail tunnel which would permit through commuter rail trains to serve both downtown stations. (Current MBTA commuter rail service is split into two completely separate services, one serving North Station and one serving South Station.) A rail tunnel would also permit Amtrak to provide through-service to communities north of Boston. The rail tunnel, electrification, and rolling stock are estimated to cost up to $2 billion (escalated dollars).
Section 3035(ii) of ISTEA directed FTA to conduct a feasibility study of a proposed rail link between North Station and South Station in Boston. Two alignments were studied: a Congress Street alignment and an alignment following the Central Artery. FTA completed the study in early 1995. In FY 1992, $250,000 of Section 5309 New Start funds were used to underwrite the study. The study assessed the costs and benefits of both tunnel alternatives.
In 1993, the Central Artery Rail Link Task Force, under Massachusetts' Executive Office of Transportation and Construction (EOTC), studied a rail link in the Central Artery alignment and concluded that it would be feasible. The Task Force proposed that the Central Artery design be modified to create a "box" which would allow for the construction of a rail link at a later date when funding is available. These initial modifications are estimated to cost $100 million. Based on this study, Congress appropriated $4 million (in the FY 1993 Amtrak supplemental) to begin engineering. The MBTA is presently conducting a Major Investment Study (MIS), and a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) is being prepared.
The current study indicates that barrel tunnels along the Central Artery alignment would be a more cost effective design. This approach would reportedly reduce the needed design modification to the Central Artery highway project. The Draft EIR/EIS/MIS are expected to be completed by the Spring of 1997.