On any given morning, the hunt for a parking spot at the Braintree Red Line station is fierce, the garage often full before rush hour is even over. Now it’s about to get more so: the MBTA will take as many as 400 spots offline starting Feb. 10 as it races to repair the garage.
The T recently announced that it was going to expedite a $30 million renovation of the 1,200-space Braintree garage, with a goal of completing the work by mid-2021, about 16 months earlier than previously projected.
Like the weekend shutdowns on parts of the Red and Orange lines in recent months, or reconstructions of the Government Center and Wollaston stations, the MBTA is essentially opting to rip off the Band-Aid and cause some short-term pain, to complete major projects more quickly. But that means the Braintree parking garage, which is already at or near capacity most mornings, will be even tighter for riders across the South Shore who use the station as a gateway to the transit system.
“If I’m going into town and want to use the garage, I often find it full and am forced to drive in,” said Michael Hand, a South Weymouth retiree who can rarely find a parking spot during the mid-day. “There are going to be more people dealing as I do.”
The MBTA has been working on the Braintree garage, as well as the one at Quincy Adams, since 2018, an initiative that should extend the garages’ lives by 40 years. The project includes a new roof, new drainage, lighting,elevators, signage, and more.
Until now, the work resulted in only 22 spots being unavailable at any one time.
The T has already added about 315 parking spots at nearby surface lots during the work, hoping that will mitigate the loss of spaces at the garage. But those spots too are often full, so those displaced from the main garage will have to compete with regulars there, too.
MBTA spokeswoman Lisa Battiston suggested some riders try their luck at Quincy Adams — though that garage, too, is undergoing a renovation that has taken 300 of its nearly 1,940 spaces offline. But the MBTA said it often has some spare room; it was only 60 percent full on Friday, for example.
Ashley Kennedy, a Braintree resident who uses both the commuter rail and the Red Line, said she will probably try Quincy Adams on days when she has to use the subway, subjecting herself to more traffic. But she supported the T’s decision to move more quickly on the garage repairs.
“The wisdom’s right. I do think a little more inconvenience for a short period of time is better” than prolonged repairs, she said.
T officials have said they are conducting a system-wide study of parking needs that will also consider other ways to access popular stations, such as better biking and walking connections.