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North-South Rail Link gets another look

For a long time after 2003, the North-South Rail Link seemed dead. That’s when Governor Mitt Romney killed it, the price topping $8 billion.

But now after heavy lobbying from two former governors, Mike Dukakis and Bill Weld, and a star-studded support group that includes Congressman Seth Moulton – the state transportation department will spend up to $2 million on a study.

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That’s peanuts for a project of this complexity – building a mile-long underground tunnel to connect North and South stations – but Dukakis will take it.

“That’s all we are looking for. A lot of work has been done on this,” said the former governor referring to previous analysis the state has undertaken.

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Dukakis figures a follow up study can be done in six months and that should “give a good sense” of whether the link is viable.

While the Baker administration favors the $1.6 billion expansion of South Station, transportation secretary Stephanie Pollack is taking another look at connecting the city’s two main transit hubs. That’s because one of the thorniest issues with a bigger South Station is where to store trains.

Pollack would like to see them somewhere in Boston and one such location is Widett Circle. But Boston Mayor Marty Walsh would like to see that industrial area developed into the next great neighborhood of Boston.

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Dukakis and Weld argue that if you build the rail tunnel, you won’t need to re-do South Station. The link would relieve congestion and add rail capacity – all without the need to buy land for layover tracks.

“We are going to do a feasibility re-assessment,” said Pollack, “and how it affects the need for track space and how it affects for layover.”

Shirley Leung is a Globe columnist. She can be reached at shirley.leung@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @leung.
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