Boston: Walpole’s legislative delegation has successfully blocked any expansion of commuter rail service into Foxboro through Walpole until at least 2017. In a meeting at the State House with Baker Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack, the delegation secured a 2 year moratorium on expansion of the Commuter Rail through Walpole.
The moratorium will now allow the people of Walpole and local officials the opportunity to fully and completely express their opposition to the project directly to the Department of Transportation. Any proposed expansion will now be subject to vigorous public debate and scrutiny. If rail service ever does become a reality on the line to Foxboro it will only be a pilot program. That pilot program beginning at the earliest in 2017 with strict criteria and metrics which must be met before full time commuter rail can be entertained.
Representative Rogers (D-Norwood) remarked, “This two year moratorium will give the people on Spring Street and Garfield Street, and all over West and South Walpole the opportunity to have their voices heard in this process. To be listened to and responded to in a way they were not until now.”
“I was glad to hear the Baker Administration is taking a hard look at this issue, and opening it up to greater community involvement. I appreciate their insistence that the current commuter rail system needs to be adequately run before we think of further expansion” said Senator Timilty (D- Walpole).
Representative Dooley (R-Norfolk) remarked “I am very happy that the administration has agreed to put this on hold but I remain strongly opposed to this expansion. I will be going door to door in South Walpole this Summer to get the residents’ thoughts on the effects this future train will have on their neighborhood and share those concerns with Secretary Pollack.”
“This is a reasonable, data-driven approach which provides better opportunity for public engagement,” said Representative Kafka. “I’m glad to see the Administration hitting the reset button here and we will continue to work to make sure Walpole’s voice is heard as we move forward.”
The Commonwealth will focus its efforts on improvements to the line for freight use and safety. The Walpole Delegation is now focusing on prioritizing safety improvements to railroad grade crossings in South Walpole near the Boyden School and fencing for abutters.