The MBTA embarks on station upgrades, new construction

Despite its budget woes, the MBTA has been actively moving to upgrade stations and add new ones. Gov. Deval Patrick and Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey recently joined federal, state, and local officials to mark the completion of the $84 million Ashmont Station, the last station renovated as part of the MBTA’s Red Line Rehabilitation (Ashmont Branch) project in the Dorchester section of Boston.

Built in the late 1920s, Ashmont Station was last renovated 35 years ago. Today’s state of the art subway facility features platforms that allow the transit agency to run six-car trains; new security and communications systems; a fully accessible lobby; and a new busway, according to a MBTA statement.

Three other stations on the Ashmont Branch were also renovated in the past three years as part of the entire $158 million project. Ashmont Station sees a little more than 6000 entries on a typical weekday, the highest on the Dorchester end of the line, according to the agency’s latest ridership and service statistics,

The Blue Line, serving downtown Boston and the city of Revere to the north, will also see a $51 million renovation to the Orient Heights Station in East Boston. The station will be closed for nearly seven months to expedite construction, which is scheduled for completion in 2014.

With $8 billion plus in red ink, the largest deficit among big city transit systems in the country, the transit agency’s finance wizards are nothing if not creative. The MBTA harnessed a public-private partnership to help forge ahead on the long-delayed Assembly Square Station on the Orange Line in the city of Somerville, northwest of Boston.  The project marks the first new station in the Greater Boston transit system in nearly 25 years and will be an important component of a planned mixed use commercial-retail-residential development along the Charles River.

The MBTA awarded a $29 million construction contract in early October. In addition to state and federal funds, Federal Realty Investment Trust, the principal developer, and IKEA, the Swedish home furnishings behemoth and an anchor tenant, are contributing $15 million. Highway dollars, to the tune of about $10 million, are also being flexed. The station is expected to open in three years. The authority anticipates about 5000 boardings on an average weekday.



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