SALEM — The waiting room at the new $44.5 million Salem MBTA commuter rail station was built to keep passengers dry and safe during stormy weather.
But Pamela Schmidt found the room soaked with water when she arrived amid a heavy rain storm on the morning of Sept. 30 to take a train to Boston.
“The windows appeared to be leaking. The ceiling was dripping. The ticket kiosks were standing in pools of water and the wooden benches were soaked,” said Schmidt, a community college professor who commutes from Salem. “Why couldn’t they waterproof it?
“It seems to me that it should have been designed to handle severe weather events,” Schmidt said. “What’s the point of having an indoor waiting room if it isn’t dry?”
Other commuters also are puzzled about how the rain gets into the waiting room, which is on the ground floor of the station. The train platform is below (there are stairs and an elevator) and the parking garage above.
“I don’t know if the general slope of the ground is off,” said Dillon James, a Salem resident who takes the train to Boston for his job as an editor. “But when there are heavy rains, there tends to be a lot of water pooling and puddles forming.”
“Maybe it’s the drainage piping?” asked John Pelletier, who commutes from his home in Newton to his job as coordinator of Mass in Motion Salem, a healthy living program. “Maybe the pipes aren’t designed for a high volume of rain?”
A coastal storm dropped 2.46 inches of rain on the Boston area on Sept. 30, boosting the rainfall total to 4.6 inches in September, according to the National Weather Service in Taunton.
The MBTA first became aware of the water issue in May, and it appears to be limited to severe weather events, said spokesman Joe Pesaturo.
“The precise source of the water has not been identified,” Pesaturo wrote in an e-mail to the Globe. “Engineers have found no structural defects.”
One point of entry could be the upper-floors of the five-story garage, which are not enclosed, Pesaturo said.
“There is a possibility that some water may come down the stairs during heavy rainfall,” he said.
Until the problem is corrected, the water is being left to dry naturally. “The water evaporates and goes to floor drains,” Pesaturo said.
“We are working with the MBTA to pinpoint the source of the water, after which we will work with the T to develop and implement an action plan,” Jim Hervol, a project executive at Consigli, said in a statement to the Globe. “We have prioritized this issue so that we can resolve it as quickly as possible for the T and its customers.”
The station includes a 715-space, brick-and-glass garage that was built on the former site of a parking lot. On average, 450 vehicles park in the garage each day, according to Pesaturo.
The MBTA station was built with $36.8 million in state transportation funding, and $4.8 million in federal funding, according to the T.
The waiting room was one of several amenities, along with a bike storage area and curbside pickup, intended to make the station more customer-friendly.Kathy McCabe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMcCabe