The most controversial aspect of the proposal is to hold construction of the new West Station until an uncertain distant future date (“2040”). Representative Mike Moran led the authorship of a strong legislators’ letter, which I joined, expressing concern about this. Many others are speaking out.
Harvard, in a letter dated January 23, has taken a step to encourage earlier construction of the station. Harvard has offered to contribute:
- $8 million to fund an early action commuter station — this would be a basic station, like the station near New Balance, that could offer commuter service to the neighborhood relatively soon.
- $50 million to the construction of the longer-term multi-modal station that would ultimately join multiple bus and rail lines — this amounts to roughly half the cost of the long-term station.
Harvard recognizes MassDOT’s concerns about the need to match service to demand and that demand will become easier to project as development plans are better defined for the area. But Harvard echoes the legislators’ letter stating that:
Harvard . . . hopes that as MassDOT considers taking advantage of the University’s financial commitment to an “early action” station, it will consider the years of construction inconveniences endured by the local community in furtherance of this regional project in addition to assessing ridership and finances.
Indeed, this point is well made. Certainly, there can be some timeline for transit expansion that recognizes the growth of demand. But the Allston-Brighton area deserves transit improvement as soon as possible. The community has long suffered from the creation of the pike and its ramp system in the middle of family neighborhoods. It will only suffer more while the project is under construction and ultimately as new development increases congestion.
Our continuing effort has to be to make sure that the needs of the community are fully appreciated by those scoping the project. You can read Harvard’s letter here and I’d very much welcome your thoughts on it. For more background, skip back to this previous post.