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North-South Rail Link advocates look to get project back on track

Supporters of a North-South Rail Link project that’s been batted around for a century are dusting off the proposal and making another push, in hopes the incoming administration will show more interest in the pricey connection than the prior one.

The project, which was last discussed by transit officials in 2018-19 when a MassDOT feasibility study estimated a hefty cost of $8.6-$17.7 billion, would connect the Amtrak and Commuter Rail lines that currently end at North and South station, via a tunnel under downtown Boston.

“We got no movement from the Baker administration on this,” said former Gov. Michael Dukakis, a longtime advocate for the project. “It’s absolutely critical to the future of the city.”

At the time of the study, Gov. Charlie Baker said the project was too expensive. MassDOT had recommended a $9.5 billion build option for a two-track tunnel that would run under Congress Street and include connections to State and Haymarket stations.

But now proponents of North-South Rail Link, which was also the subject of prior studies in 1993 and 2003, see a renewed opportunity, Dukakis said, and “have been pushing it hard with the new administration.” He described it as a “no brainer” that would take 60,000 cars off the road each day.

“Nothing really works unless you eliminate this ridiculous hole in the middle of Boston,” Dukakis said. “This is the remaining key piece of the transportation system in and around Boston and this is a great time to get going on it.”

The group has detected interest from Gov.-elect Maura Healey, he said, but it’s been higher from Lt. Gov.-elect Kim Driscoll, a past supporter of the project in her capacity as mayor of Salem, a north-of-Boston city that would benefit from the connection.

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