Andover's train tracks and roads are benefitting from a recent $16.5 billion state transportation funding bill.
The state recently allocated $60 million for constructing a double-track railway at Ballardvale Station in Andover, $3 million for infrastructure improvements in Andover’s Historic Mill District, and $7 million for a noise barrier at the intersection of I-93 and I-95 in Andover.
“This legislation makes crucial investments in our public transportation system and will help support local businesses, commuters, and other residents,” said state Sen. Barry Finegold, D-Andover. “The Haverhill Commuter Rail Line serves thousands of commuters in the Merrimack Valley, but is often delayed and unreliable. The construction of a double-track railway at Ballardvale Station will provide commuters with the direct and efficient service they deserve."
The double-track railway has been a decade in the making since the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority set out to complete eight miles of double-track on the Haverhill Line between Lawrence and Wilmington.
However, the project stopped after two miles. Andover and other towns in the remaining six miles of the commuter rail line have continued to receive slower service.
The funding is part of the state's plan to complete the remaining six miles.
"Double tracking at Ballardvale Station would significantly improve the commute for Andover residents who depend on the Haverhill line to get to work,” said Andover Town Manager Andrew Flanagan. “This project would help resolve the delays and unreliability that make utilizing the Haverhill line challenging for residents. This project would support our efforts to attract both residents and businesses that depend on public transit.”
The state's funding bill also provides $25 million to build platforms for level boarding at all stations along the Haverhill Commuter Rail Line, which includes Andover's Ballardvale Station.
"Adding level boarding will make the line more accessible and allow wheelchair users to board trains safely," Finegold said. "These much-needed improvements will help support transit-oriented development and increase rail ridership as residents begin to return to their commutes.”
The $3 million for the Mill District will go to improving roads and intersections along Essex Street that connect the district to downtown. These state-funded improvements come at the same time Andover is working to redevelop the Town Yard in the Mill District
“This project will better connect the Mill District to downtown Andover and help create safer conditions for vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians," Finegold said.