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State bill to fund transportation, infrastructure could have benefits for western Mass.

An electric vehicle charging station installed by the city of New Bedford, Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
An electric vehicle charging station installed by the city of New Bedford, Massachusetts.

A western Massachusetts lawmaker says a new transportation bill filed by Gov. Charlie Baker has the potential to be transformative for the region, but there are some projects he wants to make sure are included.

Baker announced the bond bill at a press conference on Thursday. He said it would authorize nearly $10 billion in new spending on transportation and infrastructure, some of which would be reimbursed with federal money.

Highways and MBTA trains would receive upgrades, and regional transit authorities like the PVTA would get more funding.

The bill would also authorize spending on electric vehicle charging stations and electric school buses.

But state Sen. Eric Lesser of Longmeadow said he wants to see new train service funded as well.

"There was no explicit mention of east-west rail service between Pittsfield, Springfield and Boston," he said. "Nor was their mention of improvements along the north-south corridor — the Valley Flyer corridor — into New York City."

Deb Markowitz, who is the director of the Massachusetts chapter of the Nature Conservancy, said her group is thrilled about the bill. She believes the charging stations provision could benefit the western part of the state.

"It makes it possible for tourists to come with their electric vehicles and find a place to charge along the way," she said. "You know, western Massachusetts really relies on tourism."

Both chambers of the state legislature now have to consider Baker's bill.

Corrected: March 25, 2022 at 10:05 AM EDT
Due to a production error, an earlier version of this report inaccurately stated the last name of Deb Markowitz.
Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.