Governor Patrick and the members of the Mass DOT stopped by the Berkshires to introduce a plan to boost the region's economy. YNN's Madeleine Rivera has the details.
STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. -- In the middle of the press conference, there came a surprise: a train passing through the station.
"There'll be people getting on that one day," said Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary, Richard Davey.
At least, that's the plan. The train passing by was a freight train, carrying no passengers. But, Governor Patrick hopes to change that. His goal is to create a passenger train service between the Berkshires and New York City.
"Growth comes from investment," said the governor.
During his State of the Commonwealth address, Patrick emphasized transportation and education as two of his main initiatives. He proposed raising transportation revenue by $13 billion over the next ten years. This would be funded by an income tax hike. The train service between Pittsfield and New York would cost about $113 million and is included in this budget.
"This route was used all the time by tourists and employees and second home owners, and now we can have it again," said State Representative, Tricia Farley-Bouvier.
Supporters of the project say the train would boost traffic and jobs in the Berkshires, a region that tends to feel isolated.
"We know that our greatest asset is the beauty and the community that we have here in the Berkshires. We just need more people to get here," said State Senator Ben Downing.
There were a lot of people at the meeting who really want to see service restored from the Berkshires to New York City. But, this plan is very much in its early stages. There are a lot of steps that have to be completed before anything comes into fruition.
"We're still a few years off. What we propose is a down payment. We still have to work with Connecticut obviously because there are some rail upgrades that will have to take place in Connecticut. And, we still have to think about who will run the service for us. It could be Metro North, MBTA, it could be private carrier," said Davey.
But, before it even gets that far, the budget has to pass the legislature.
"Nothing's definite until we have the votes," said Patrick.
That process will unravel in the next several months.