Governor Deval Patrick today announced a $200 million investment in Phase 1 of the I-91 Springfield Viaduct project and additional funding to create a permanent home for Camp STAR Angelina at Forest Park. These investments in Greater Springfield will help unlock potential for additional economic and community development opportunities in the region. Governor Patrick made the announcements while speaking to the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield at the Springfield Marriott.
"Growth requires investment, and moving forward on the I-91 viaduct project and upgrading our urban parks will create growth and opportunity in Springfield and beyond," said Governor Patrick. "If we want to expand opportunity in our Commonwealth, this is what government must do and do well."
Once completed, the I-91 Springfield viaduct deck replacement project will increase safety and accessibility on the busy interstate. The bridge decks are currently in poor condition and in need of replacement. The elevated viaduct carries I-91 through Springfield with the I-291 Interchange to the north and State Street to the south. I-91 has an Average Daily Traffic volume of approximately 75,000 vehicles per day and 90,000 vehicles on the I-91/291 Interchange. The viaduct is the primary North-South route between Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, leading to extensive vacation traffic during the weekends in the summer and winter. Construction is slated to begin in November 2014 and the preliminary cost estimate for the project is $200 million. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has previously announced Phase 2 of the project, which allows MassDOT's Office of Transportation Planning to begin a planning study that will identify existing issues and evaluate alternative alignments of I-91, including at-grade and below-grade alternatives, which may be less disruptive to the urban environment and could provide a regional highway connection that is more environmentally and financially sustainable in the long-term than the existing configuration. The I-91 viaduct currently is currently a barrier between downtown Springfield and the Connecticut River Riverwalk. The study's developed alternatives will identify ways to strengthen both the multi-modal accommodations within Springfield and the connections between downtown Springfield and the waterfront.
The $1.225 million investment in Camp STAR Angelina at Springfield's Forest Park will fund a new pool, bathhouse, trail and amphitheater to establish a permanent home for the camp. The camp serves youth and young adults with and without disabilities, including learning, developmental and emotional disabilities, medical concerns and hearing and visual impairments. This will be the first universally designed day camp and park in Western Massachusetts and will offer new opportunities for the city's families.
"We are thrilled to invest in this project, that will make Camp STAR Angelina a model for universal accessibility," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan. "Recreational activities should be available to everyone, and this project will revitalize an underused section of Forest Park, bringing new facilities for swimming, cultural performances and group activities to serve the needs of all our youth as well as the entire Springfield community."
"The viaduct is a critical artery for residents of the Greater Springfield area," said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey. "We have a responsibility to make investments in projects like these in order to assure continued economic growth in the region and a safe commute for all who travel."
Earlier in the day, Governor Patrick visited the Pathways to Prosperity program at West Springfield High School, where working closely with Springfield Technical Community College (STCC), the Hampden Regional Employment Board and the Western Mass Tool and Machine Association, the school has developed a career pathway program in advanced manufacturing. The first cohort of students started this September with 40 ninth grade students who self-selected into the program. Each week, the students come together to learn about careers in manufacturing and the skills required for those careers. As this cohort moves through the pathway, they will take courses co-developed by their high school teachers and STCC faculty, as well as employers, and will be able to access internship opportunities in their junior and senior years.
Today's announcements build on record investments in education, innovation and infrastructure the Patrick Administration has made in Greater Springfield over the past several years. Springfield's Alfred G. Zanetti Montessori School has made rapid gains in student achievement, including significant progress on the MCAS exams, which will allow the school to exit Level 4 or "underperforming" status and enter level 1, the highest designation possible. Innovation schools like the Springfield Renaissance School and the 21st Century Skills Academy in West Springfield are using new learning models to focus on college and career readiness. With assistance from community college reform legislation offered by Governor Patrick, STCC is rehabilitating and expanding their Mechanical Engineering Technology facility and additional classroom space has increased capacity to train students and allowed for a stronger curriculum to respond to industry demand. Also in Springfield, the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute is establishing a Health Informatics and Technology Innovation Center, focused on advancing public/private-sector partnerships and incubating innovative technology solutions developed by start-ups and larger firms.
Through grants from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC), Putnam Vocational Technical Academy in Springfield and STCC have new science equipment through grants from our Life Sciences Center. Through additional state funding, internship programs at the Court Square Group and Orthotics and Prosthetics Lab in Springfield, and FloDesign Sonics are training our students for the jobs of the 21st century. Elsewhere in Springfield, the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute is establishing a Health Informatics and Technology Innovation Center, focused on advancing public/private-sector partnerships and incubating innovative technology solutions developed by start-ups and larger firms.
Through workforce training programs, the Commonwealth has trained over 6,000 workers and job seekers in Greater Springfield since 2007. Throughout the region, police and fire departments, schools and libraries will have better and faster internet access due to the MassBroadbad 123 initiative.
The Patrick Administration has also invested nearly $6 million in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in the region. A comprehensive energy efficiency overhaul is currently underway at the Hampden County Sheriff's headquarters through the Administration's Leading by Example program.
At the Ludlow Mills Redevelopment project, the Patrick Administration has created a public-private partnership through state funding by converting a 100 year old mill complex into a modern, energy efficient, mixed-use development that will combine residential, office, retail and commercial space. In addition, a former school in Ludlow has been converted into 49 units of affordable housing for seniors. Through the MassWorks Infrastructure Grant Program, investments at the intersections of Genesse, Taylor and Worthington Streets in Springfield have facilitated the creation of 250 full time jobs and a $6 million private investment by Liberty Mutual. In addition, more than $27 million in housing and tax credits have been awarded to Springfield, creating or preserving over 900 affordable housing units and creating over 700 jobs.
The Administration has continued to reinvest in the region's infrastructure after years of neglect. Downtown Westfield has been transformed through restoration of the City's two major bridges, new common space, and the new presence of Westfield State in the commercial center of the city. After decades, Springfield's Union Station will be rebuilt, reestablishing the city's historic facility as a transportation hub. Other improvements include the reconstruction of State Street in downtown Springfield and East Street and Chapin Street in Ludlow, widening the roads and making upgrades to the rotary at Route 5 and 57 in Agawam, the resurfacing of Route 5 in Longmeadow, Route 5 is being resurfaced from Edgewood Street to Warren Terrace, and Converse Street from Lauren Street to Dwight Street and the Bikeway loop in Agawam. The Pioneer Valley Transportation Authority will also replace 30 of its busses. The Patrick Administration is also committed to building the Canal Walk, a 9,000 foot pedestrian walkway in Holyoke to complement the revival of the mill area downtown.
The replacement of the bridges over rail lines on Roosevelt Avenue in Springfield is currently ongoing, and the Patrick Administration is working to restore the Amtrak Vermonter along the Knowledge Corridor, creating new stations in Northampton, Greenfield and Holyoke. Next summer, the reconstruction and widening of the I-91/Route 5/I-90 interchange in Holyoke and West Springfield will be completed.
"The I-91 viaduct is a safety concern and I am glad that we have the funding to make the necessary improvements," said Senator James Welch. "I would like to thank the administration for its continued investment in local projects like Camp STAR Angelina."
"Addressing our aged transportation infrastructure and making significant investments in our local youth will serve as great contributions to Springfield and its residents," stated Representative Coakley-Rivera. "These types of investments will always have a positive impact on our community."
"I am grateful to Governor Patrick for recognizing that 91 is the most important road project in Western Massachusetts," said Chicopee Mayor Bissonnette. "Funding protects everyday commerce and commuters while providing the initial basis for further safety improvements needed to preserve the viaduct."
"Governor Patrick has been a friend to Springfield and Western Mass since day one," said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. "We are grateful to both Governor Patrick and Secretary Richard Davey for this significant announcement for Phase 1 of the I-91 Viaduct Redevelopment Project. I am looking forward to their bold and visionary plan for the viaduct as we move forward in re-shaping downtown Springfield." Mayor Domenic J. Sarno went on to say "The Springfield Parks System is one of the jewels the City of Springfield has to offer and It is imperative to have programs in place at our park facilities for our young people. Governor Patrick a and Secretary Richard Sullivan's commitment to funding Camp STAR/Angelina is a testament to their commitment to our children. On behalf of all our residents, especially the young people of Springfield, thank you."
Tuesday's announcements are part of a series of events the Governor is holding throughout the Fall to demonstrate the types of investments his Administration is making in every region of the Commonwealth to expand growth and opportunity to all of our residents.