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November 18, 2013

Bond hikes fines for skipping MBTA fares

(Continued)

Straus and other South Coast lawmakers have pushed for completion of a commuter rail to Fall River and New Bedford, through Taunton, which the administration initially gave a $1.8 billion price tag when it sought to use diesel locomotives. An environmental review by the Army Corps of Engineers said the project should use more costly electrically wired trains, and the cost was increased by $400 million.

“That’s the number that the administration provided to us based on the completion of the Army Corps of Engineers environmental review,” Straus said.

Straus said the actual completion of South Coast Rail will depend on the next governor, and the Legislature will likely have done all the lawmaking needed to provide for the project by passing the bond bill.

“As I read existing law, authorization and financing that the Legislature has undertaken, with this approval the Legislature will not be required or called upon to adopt anything further with South Coast Rail,” Straus said. “The success of South Coast Rail will depend on this and the next governor.”

Sen. Mark Montigny, a New Bedford Democrat who used to head up the regional chamber of commerce and has pushed for the train for decades, said funding bills for South Coast Rail have passed before.

“This is just one more step. I don’t get too excited,” said Montigny. “In fact, the next time I get excited will be if the day comes when the first train arrives. Until then, I’ll probably be pretty tempered in my responses.

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