$34.3M earmarked for north Central Worcester County; Rail line to get most of federal money.


Byline: George Barnes

Northern Worcester County will enjoy a bounty of $34.3 million earmarked for nine projects in Gardner, Fitchburg and Leominster in the 2009 federal omnibus bill.

U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, said yesterday that among the projects is $30 million in track improvements to the Fitchburg to Boston commuter line.

Mr. Olver said the goals of the project are to reduce travel time from a maximum of 90 minutes to about 60 minutes, to improve on-time reliability and attract new riders to the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority.

The money is one of 13 Small Starts grants nationwide from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration included in President's Bush's fiscal 2009 budget request.

All that is needed for the work to begin is the approval of the state's bond bill. Mr. Olver said that when it passes, the work can begin within 18 months.

Also in the omnibus bill is $1.19 million for Mount Wachusett Community College's collaborative wind project. The college is proposing to install two wind turbines on its Gardner campus. Once the project is completed, using lessons learned installing the turbines, the college will create a template for others in the region to replicate.

A portion of this money could be used for a wind project Templeton is working on, Mr. Olver said.

Also in the bill is $400,000 for the North Worcester County Drug Task Force, a consortium of nine area municipal law enforcement agencies. The money would be used to create a credentialing data base where people dealing with an emergency could be certified at the scene and given responsibilities that match their qualifications.

Leominster is also slated to receive $100,000 for the Slack Brook stabilization project feasibility study. The money will be used to complete a study of bank stabilization along...

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