Update from the MBTA

October 17, 2019

Due to greater than expected repairs required in the upper busway the schedule has slipped and the lower busway has not started as planned.

Unfortunately if the project moves forward with the lower busway work at this point, the busway will not be completed by the 12/22 completion date.

After careful consideration, the MBTA has decided to defer the lower busway work until late spring/early summer 2020. The upper and lower busways will both return to service late December with the upper busway renovated, and the lower busway not renovated. We realize that closing the lower busway in the spring/summer again is another huge inconvenience, but this allows the trackless trolleys to return to normal service and board passengers inside during the winter months.

The Harvard Station Busway Improvement Project is a state of good repairs project to maintain this MBTA bus station as part of the larger MBTA 5-year Capital Investment Plan. The primary goals of this improvement project are to repair the roadway, drainage, lighting, and walls of the Harvard Station Busway. This project began in June. Construction is roughly halfway complete, and the MBTA is fairly confident that it will be able to maintain its timeline for construction to be completed by late December.

Construction for this project was broken into two phases: the upper roadway tunnel, which runs Northbound and the lower roadway tunnel, which runs Southbound. Contractors have been working six days per week on double shifts to complete this project.

Construction on the upper tunnel is nearing completion. Updates include a new roadway, improved drainage, lighting, concrete repairs on the walls and ceilings, platform finishes.

The upper roadway has been laid.

New platforms finishes have been installed to increase accessibility.

The drainage system has been updated, including new drains on the roadway.

The most intensive part of the project has been the concrete work on both the walls and ceilings. In some areas, up to 8 inches of concrete needed to be chiseled away and replaced.

Part of this concrete work included restoring the columns in the tunnel separating the upper and lower roadways.

The tiles lining the side of the tunnel have also been restored, while the original tiles on the Harvard sign remain.

Electrical work in the upper tunnel is nearing completion. The new lights will be installed in the coming weeks as the last phase of the upper tunnel construction. Part of this installation will take place on the top roadway during non-service hours after the upper roadway is re-opened.

The construction team will transition into construction on the bottom roadway in the upcoming weeks. Construction plans on the lower roadway will mimic that of the upper tunnel: new roadway, new drainage, lighting, and concrete work on the walls and ceiling. The picture below shows the completed upper roadway (on the right) and the lower roadway that the construction team will begin working on (on the left).

This construction project is approximately on time and construction on the lower roadway is set to finish in late December.

For more information on the project, please visit: https://www.mbta.com/projects/harvard-station-busway-improvements

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11 Comments

  1. I really appreciate that you take the time to update on the progress of this (and other) transit issues. Also – thank you for making sure this project stays on schedule. I commute daily with my toddler in a stroller from red line to 71, and we will both be extremely appreciative to be back in the tunnel before the worst of the winter weather hits.

  2. As an infrequent but active user of the 71, these renovations are overdue – thank you for sharing!
    Of course, renovations are only the start. I would like to see cleaning and maintenance as an ongoing imperative. Stations are too often left filthy, derelict and smelling like urine. Passengers are afraid to brush against the walls or even sit down that they will leave with more than they brought – yuck! Let’s make sure that these renovations are not the end but the beginning.

  3. I add my thanks for the update. The roadway is looking much improved, and it’s helpful to know exactly which systems are being updated.

  4. I am a 48 year user of the MBTA and 30 year user of the 71 and 73 buses into Harvard station. Against the panorama of global transportation needs, I have always been a grateful consumer of the MBTA.
    Re: the Harvard busway renovation, I haven’t read enough to appreciate the need. The population pressure on all lines is only increasing, being borne by an aging fleet. My ingoing 73 bus has been diverted to a final stop on Mt Auburn St. Now completed, with pending construction on the upper busway, I wonder if the other bus lines (74,75,77) will have a chance to share the trek during the next phase of construction.

  5. Upper busway still incomplete on 10/15/19 so it’s unrealistic to expect lower busway will be finished by end of December. Can get no response from MBTA on status. Commute for hundreds of 71 and 73 passengers is unsafe now and especially in non-daylight hours. At all times, we are forced to cross a busy street on inbound trips (and seldom is there a police presence to assist) and we always must walk on a cracked, sloping brick sidewalk containing grates, a steel plate, small “manhole” covers for water pipes, and a hydrant. What’s the plan for keeping us safe in winter conditions? It’s unfair that we are the only commuters without access to non-electric buses taking us closer to the subway entrance on the trips into Harvard Station and allowing us to have indoor boarding for outbound trips. Can anything be done to help us? Can we at least have a truthful status from the MBTA?

      1. There’s been a change on the MBTA’s site at https://www.mbta.com/projects/harvard-station-busway-improvements which shows: “On Monday, October 21, the upper busway at Harvard Station will temporarily reopen, and the lower busway will close for renovations. Buses will board at the upper busway during this time.” However, it appears the 71 and 73 commuters will continue to disembark and reboard our vehicles on the surface. This morning’s walk on the wet brick, leaf-strewn sidewalk from University Road to the subway entrance was treacherous; I shudder to think what it will be when covered with snow and ice. Where is our protection? Why are these commuters being treated so unfairly as compared to all other Harvard Station bus route riders? Can nothing be done for us? I truly appreciate your ongoing concern for all MBTA commuters in your area. Thanks.

  6. Thanks for updating your website. I also received the same information in an email yesterday from Lonny Fidalgo, the Harvard Busway project manager. I do thank you for your support to all commuters, even those living outside of your actual district. Those in your “roots” town of Watertown and current home in Belmont are especially grateful to have such a responsive politician in office.

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