Gov. Patrick pushes for construction of South Coast Rail

A map of the proposed South Coast Rail corridor

It's been more than 20 years since Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld first began talking about restoring commuter rail service to New Bedford and Fall River.

Four governors later, it looks like Deval Patrick will be the one to push the project into reality.

"You know, I describe myself as a pro-growth progressive. I really believe we have to have economic growth in order to expand opportunity," Patrick said during a taping of "10 News Conference" at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

The South Coast Rail project is a perfect example, promising construction jobs to create a pipeline for a depressed region's inhabitants to get to jobs in the greater Boston area.

The Massachusetts legislature has agreed to the governor's request for funding, passing a transportation bond bill that includes $2.3 billion for South Coast Rail.

Patrick's strategy is to take the job, in his words, past the point of no return.

"We're doing the work we can do while we're waiting for final approval of the route, which we have preliminarily from the Army Corps. That took 2-and-a-half or three years longer than it was supposed to. We will let the contract for the construction before I leave office, God willing," said Patrick, who will leave office in January.

But nobody's predicting the date when those trains finally begin rolling.