After hearing about the two-year delay for the Longfellow Bridge’s reopening, you may have found yourself wondering about another massive, disruptive transportation project: the two-year, $82 million remake of the MBTA’s Government Center Station in downtown Boston.
Apparently, the T has good news for you: It’s still on track to open next spring.
I moved to the area less than a year ago, so I’ve never lived in a Boston with a functioning Government Center Station (or a fully open Longfellow Bridge, for that matter). So when I saw the 40-foot-high glass walls of the new station rising on City Hall Plaza, I was particularly intrigued.
T officials were eager to tell me the plan was on track. They said riders familiar with the former station will get a completely different experience when they walk through the new facility for the first time.
The glass walls will bring a new feeling to the station, said Brian Howland, a resident engineer at the MBTA.
“It really adds an abundance of natural light down on that Green Line platform,” he said. “The old station used to be like a bunker, very small, very dark.”
Workers are also refinishing the concrete platform floors with terrazzo (made with green chips on the Green Line platform, and blue on the Blue Line platform). Besides being more durable and stain resistant, Howland said, the terrazzo will be “absolutely stunning and change the whole look of this place because it’s been concrete and steel for 117 years.”
More important, the revamped station will also be more accessible to people with disabilities. The old station did not have elevators, so the T is installing two. And from the quick glimpse I saw, those elevators will look just as fancy as the glass walls outside.
Frank DePaola, the interim general manager of the MBTA, said the decision to close the station to the public throughout construction has kept the project on track. As he gave me a tour of the work site Friday, he noted that the construction crews have been able to easily adjust the ir schedules because they didn’t have to contend with riders coming and going.
David Montague, president of Cambridge-based Montague Bikes, knows there are casual cyclists out there who would love to incorporate biking into their morning commute, but think the ride from home is just too long.
That’s why Montague and the Department of Conservation and Recreation have pushed a new “Park & Pedal” network. The initiative aims to encourage people to drive for some of their commute, park in a designated lot, and pedal the rest of the way on their bikes.
“This is not for the hard-core cyclist,” Montague said. “It’s for the casual suburban commuter cyclist.”
Montague was joined by Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack and several other state officials on Friday as they unveiled the new initiative at one of the lots, at Christian Herter Park in Brighton. Other parking “hubs” will open in Watertown, Medford, Newton, Revere, and Boston.
The system requires little investment, according to Montague: The DCR helped identify underused public parking lots for the program, so they aren’t building any new spots. And the parking lots are near bike paths, so commuters will be more likely to want to take the trip on their bikes.
Montague thinks it could even make more casual cyclists become better bike advocates: “The beauty of this is that if we get more people on their bikes and on the roads, they’ll demand better bike paths and bike lanes. It’s like the chicken and the egg.”