FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — It’s going to take longer than originally planned for the South Coast Rail to be up and running.
The $1 billion project aims to connect Fall River, New Bedford and Taunton, as well as other surrounding towns, to Boston. The train line was originally scheduled to be completed in late 2023.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) said the South Coast Rail will now be opening next summer.
Rep. Jake Auchincloss slammed the MBTA, describing the delay as “another unacceptable failure.”
“South Coast Rail was advertised as being on time and on budget as recently as a couple of months ago,” he said. “Now, they are claiming that there are months yet to come of inspections and safety reviews. They clearly knew about this months ago.”
Fall River Mayor Paul Coogan isn’t worried about the delay in construction.
“We’ve been waiting for the train for 30 years, so another five or six months are not going to kill us,” he explained.
Coogan emphasized the importance of the railway and its impacts on the city.
“We want to try and reduce cars, reduce emissions and let people walk to work, even if it’s in Boston,” he said.
Taunton Mayor Shaunna O’Connell shared Coogan’s sentiments.
“This has been a very, very long time coming as it is,” she said. “A short delay is not going to affect us.”
O’Connell added that Taunton is already starting to see benefits from the rail project.
“We have a beautiful project that has just been approved right near the rail,” O’Connell said. “It’s about 280 apartments with also commercial and retail space.”
“It’s already bringing jobs here. It’s bringing development here,” she continued.
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said in a statement that, while the city is eager for the rail to open, safety remains a priority. He also believes that the MBTA is working diligently to get the job done.
“I commend the South Coast Rail team for their resolute commitment to this project,” Mitchell said.
MBTA General Manager Philip Eng praised the work on the rail that’s been completed so far.
“I commend the South Coast Rail team for their resolute commitment to this project, including working through a pandemic and managing supply chain issues, to bring us the point where we are,” Eng said.
The MBTA said roughly 90% of the construction has been completed, with about 300 employees working on an average day.