MILTON — The Milton Select Board is threatening to sue the MBTA to force the agency to repair a long-barricaded staircase connecting Adams Street in Lower Mills to the Milton Station, a stop on the Mattapan trolley line.
The MBTA said the staircase won’t be repaired and will be demolished instead.
In a Sept. 14 letter, MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said the stairway “cannot be repaired and reopened at this time because it would require extensive repairs to make it fully accessible” — including installing an elevator and raising the platform, “which would require a full station replacement.”
The work has to wait until a new Milton Station is built as part of an upgraded Mattapan line, Poftak said. That project is a decade or more away, according to MBTA documents, but Poftak said a demolition contractor for the stairs should be in place by the end of 2022.
“As soon as the MBTA can determine a definitive construction deadline (we) will reach out to you,” he wrote.
MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo also noted there is an alternative route to the station from Adams Street — down the street and through a parking lot adjacent to the trolley platform.
The Milton Select Board told the MBTA on Aug. 30 that a civil lawsuit would be filed in Norfolk Superior Court in two weeks if nothing was done to fix the stairway, which has been blocked off for several years by a concrete barricade, steel fences, and a “DANGER” sign. It had not been filed as of Tuesday.
A draft of the suit states the MBTA “abandoned its care of the staircase,” leaving residents without an “obvious access path” to the station.
The town’s efforts to get the stairway reopened “have been ignored by the MBTA, leaving Milton with its hands tied and a perpetually decrepit staircase in a station used frequently by its residents. After years of attempted resolution and serious frustration, Milton files this suit as a last resort,” the draft complaint says.
The draft lists actions dating from 2019 to get the MBTA to do something about the problem.
The town is not asking for monetary damages; “Milton simply seeks to compel the MBTA to do its statutorily-imposed job,” the complaint adds.
Select Board Vice Chair Michael Zullas urged his board to sue the MBTA, saying the blockaded stairs are dangerous and an eyesore.
According to the MBTA, the Mattapan Line serves about 6,600 riders daily, on trolleys that date back to the 1940s and run on 2.6 miles of track between Ashmont — on the Red Line — and Mattapan Station. The route has eight stations and connects riders to many local bus routes and the Neponset River Bike Trail.
The MBTA has been plagued with safety issues in recent months, and in April 2022 the Federal Transit Administration began a comprehensive review of the transit system’s operation after a man was dragged to his death after getting his arm stuck in the door of a Red Line car. FTA officials said they were “extremely concerned with the ongoing safety issues” and identified four major issues the MBTA needs to address as quickly as possible.
The FTA said transit officials have put too much emphasis on expansion to the detriment of necessary maintenance and training.
In partial response, the MBTA shut down the system’s Orange Line for a month to make emergency repairs and improvements. The line is scheduled to reopen on Sept. 19.
In 2021, Boston University professor and Milton resident David Jones died after falling from a rusty staircase near the MBTA JFK/UMass Red Line and Commuter rail station. The stairway had been closed for safety reasons for more than a year; reports at the time of the accident said the stairway was blocked off but there were no signs saying it was closed.
Johanna Seltz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.