Drawings for Boston College Station

The MBTA has recently completed preliminary design drawings for a proposed reconstruction of the Boston College Station at Commonwealth Avenue and Lake Street in Brighton. Click here to view the drawings.

My understanding is that the MBTA has not committed construction funds for this station project. The MBTA will be advancing the design to the 30% design stage to refine the costs necessary to advance the design and construction of the station. However, in a letter dated May 18, 2012, General Manager Davis stated

[W]e have not committed funds that would enable the project to advance into final design or construction, and, in fact, given our pressing infrastructure needs backlog and budget constraints, the Authority would certainly require funding from sources other than the MBTA should a decision be made to complete the station improvement project.

They have indicated that they will engage all stakeholders including neighborhood residents later in the design process — they are currently at the 15% design phase and have said that they will conduct a hearing at the 30% phase. I have not made a personal decision as to whether to support this design. I will weigh in after the public hearing.

Essentially, the design under consideration would include new inbound and outbound platforms located in the middle of Commonwealth avenue, bracketing the tracks east of the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Lake Street. The design includes an attractive shelter on the inbound side and improved pedestrian crossings. The drawings are a little hard to look at, but there is an index on the second page and there are page numbers in the lower right of each page. Pages C-3 and C-4 show the top down view of the proposed new station. Page C-5 shows a section looking east. Page A-12 offers an artists rendering of the proposed station. Click here for the MBTA’s online project synopsis.

My understanding is that the recently renovated station in the T yard would no longer be in regular use under the plan, so that residents of the abutting neighborhoods north of Commonwealth Avenue would now need to cross the street to board. However, the MBTA will continue to use the yard for maintenance and storage of cars — there is no plan to close the yard. Also, although Boston College has historically expressed interest in closing Thomas More Road, this design does not appear to facilitate that.

I am naturally supportive of improving T stations in my district. I recently supported a bond bill earmark of funds for this and two other stations along Commonwealth Avenue. However, by the terms of the bill, the earmark is just an expression of legislative interest. The bill specifically provides that “the secretary of transportation shall have the responsibility for evaluating and selecting eligible projects . . . the amounts specified in this item or for a particular project may be adjusted in order to facilitate other projects.” I have not married the particular approach represented in these drawings and will look forward to getting input through the public process before determining what comments to make on it. Certainly, to the extent state funds would be used for the project, the benefits of the project must be compared to those of other possible projects.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

11 replies on “Drawings for Boston College Station”

  1. The proposed station looks very nice (even in the preliminary planning stage), but I do not like the idea of having to cross a major busy intersection to access it. I can’t imagine having to cross Lake St and Commonwealth Ave during the winter, with huge snow banks that typically block access to the sidewalk there (especially with a stroller). So while the proposed design looks nice, I like the station where it is now and I hope it stays that way. As a regular B line rider, I think the MBTA should focus more on improving the speed and reliability of the line by lowering the density of some stops (especially around BU) and allowing it right of way on all traffic lights as is done on the D line.
    Thank you for your time,
    Brighton, Ma

    1. I agree that adding a requirement to cross traffic on foot is not desirable for neighborhood residents.

      We can’t judge this until the hearing, but the benefits in terms of improved service time would have to be significant to outweigh these negatives and justify this investment.

  2. Something needs to be done about that Trolley stop at BC. I work at BC and drive up Commonwealth Avenue every morning taking a left onto St. Thomas More Drive. The trolleys are always going through the red lights at the intersection at Lake Street, then stop right in the middle of the road; always blocking the traffic on Commonwealth Ave.

    I not only worry about the trolleys hitting cars who have the right of the way, but the students who are crossing there; kids are have their iPods in their ears and look at the walk light and think is safe to cross; it’s not.

    Running red lights is not just a once in a while occurrence with these trolleys, it is a daily issue.

    I would have to hear more about putting the platform in the middle of Commonwealth Ave. before weighing in on that. This is a topic that affects a lot of commuters as well as residents and should be looked at very carefully.

  3. I’m very pleased with the possibility of the new station. My only request is that the station be of more practical use for users than the new Kenmore Station busway. There is very little shade there so it would be nice for the BC station to allow for shade and be more protective from cold, heat and wind not just a cover from occasional rain or snow.

  4. I am supportive of safety improvements to the trolley stations, but this looks more like a roadway improvement project masquerading as a station improvement project. The goal is to minimize trolley movements to the yard, allowing drivers on Lake Street to move a few seconds earlier, but it is being paid for by transit money. As I pointed out elsewhere, there will still need to be frequent yard moves, so it doesn’t seem particularly cost-effective.

    I concur with Mikolaj that the MBTA should be focusing on improving the reliability of the line by spacing out stations to modern standards, as opposed to the horse-trolley standards that persist to this day. They should also be focused on making simple improvements like signal priority, all-doors boarding with proof-of-payment, and cutting costs through one-person operation of trolleys as is done in San Francisco and other parts of the world. The “B” line is important: with 30,000 surface boardings a day, it easily carries more people through Brighton than the roadway around it.

  5. The MBTA spent months working out the latest fare increase and cut back a number of services (including weekend Greenbush trains this summer – after ten years of planning and labor to make it work), evidently at the same time they were planning this.

    Does the MBTA have any ‘plans’ to become solvent? Do our legislators?

    Are there merits to this specific plan? (I hardly want to comment due to the feelings expressed above) I see no specific benefits other than catering to a few narrow interests likely those who will directly benefit financially, those who run the project.

    For my 2 cents – I think the MBTA should put its efforts ELSEWHERE (I can’t say that forcefully enough to express my feelings). Like getting the streetcars to run on a good schedule, or frequently, and to avoid dropping reams of people off at Washington to express to BC again and again so they keep their run-time statistics to look good. Its like they have lost the point of transporting passengers in favor statistics for getting the streetcars down to BC.

    1. Fair points.

      I definitely agree that the highest priority has to be maintenance of basic service elements that are failing. That doesn’t mean we can’t give the project fair consideration at a hearing, but I agree that the project may turn out to be a distraction from higher priorities.

      The T’s budget and long term financial health will be a central concern for me as State Senator in the coming session, and I believe that most legislators recognize that we need to get something big done soon.

Comments are closed.