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Red Line Ashmont Branch Renovations

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ASHMONT STATION RENOVATIONS

Ashmont Station is an intermodal station, which is currently in design. The schedule is to be complete in design by spring 2004 with three month bid advertisement (summer 2004) and construction to begin fall 2004.

The proposed design is a complete renovation, and modernization, integrated with the opportunity for transit-oriented development. The proposed design restores the entrance and an urban design solution toward Peabody Square while integrating all three transit modes, bus, trolley and rapid transit (Red Line) into a customer friendly, accessible, well lit and secure station.

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From MBTA.com

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I think this will be agreat transit center and it looks like it would be a model for all cities to follow i think it will serve the passngers well in all there transit needs

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Looks like a great addition to Boston's transit system.

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Now I know I'm getting old, I've outlived a T station! Back in the early 1980's they redid this station because the 1920's version was in disgraceful disrepair.

At first glance I hated this design except the development component which really is the key to it all. It stands alone, ignoring the Victorians and 3 Deckers surrounding it. Where are all the T maps? Where will they go? What is it supposed to be improving in Peabody Sq? All I see is a blank plaza. How `bout a structure of some sorts to compliment the streetscape and dress up the cab stand. Nobody uses it now because of the traffic and the weather. Too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter and too wet in the spring and fall to be standing out on a concrete plaza in the middle of traffic. This inspite of its location is not nearly the primary way people enter this station. People enter by foot from an entrance at the rear of the station near Lombard st, front rear near Beale street or via trolley, bus or Subway train. The pedestrian entrances are still there but they are an after thought. Past attempts to create a front door have left us with a shabbier version of exactly what they propose.

Along Beale street, a street of tidy 6 family, 3 deckers they propose a parking lot :( UGH!! They wouldn't get away with that on the expensive side of the Red Line!!

The problems they look to solve like light and such are problems they create by changing the current train platform from street grade and enclosing it, making this a taller station than is currently there. Right now you wait for a train essentially out in the elements. I suppose it's good but when you arrived in this station you felt like you were in a real place instead of a building, I'll miss that. Granted a dangerous place, but a real life actual part of the city you can't get from enclosed or underground stations.

I could go on and on but the big issue with this station is the trolley turn around which is a nessesary feature of any design.

more later...

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I'm not super familiar with the current station, I've only been there a few times. But at first glance I dislike the fact that the train platform is now at a different level than the busway. But, there is a loitering issue at the busway that this grade separation could solve. People having Ashmont as their final destination had to make their way through people loitering at the busway to get out, now they can make their way down what should be a virtually empty platform to the Peabody Square exit and avoid the busway.

The design strikes me as rather unimaginative, the Peabody Square end looks like Porter Square station (without the stabile). The T's new love affair with glass leaves me cool, I'm picture it in my mind's eye covered in scratchitti and various stickers and other 'matter.' The current condition of Porter Square station itself is a testiment to what the future of this station could be, and Porter is at the 'rich end' of the red line. The T has a poor track record on maintenance and this station looks like it will show dirt very easily. It is a very high trafficed station as well so will be victim to lots of wear and tear, I wonder if this design can stand up to that.

Scott, I didn't realize that Ashmont had had such a recent facelift, another indication of the T's maintenance record...

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Yep, Ashmont got all it's plexi-glass walkways during the 1980's, prior to that it had one of those concrete and copper-clad things a little like the old Forest Hills or Green stations. The new station's trolley platform is in the rear of the station and the trolley will have a shorter loop, letting people out into a lobby and not right in front of the subway turnstiles like at present. People would get off the trolley in record time if a train was sitting there with its doors open! Trolleys to or from Ashmont are free so teens could run up the stairs over the station and take the trolley back to Mattapan in a continuous loop.

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It's great to see these improvements to an often neglected transit line.

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that is a really nice proposal. Even though I have never been to that station is seems nice.

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Extreme makeover

A new Ashmont station is coming; the trick will be to get T riders to linger

By Johnny Diaz, Globe Staff, 2/29/2004

"Next stop, Ashmont."

When Rosanne Foley hears that MBTA electronic greeter, she knows she's almost home in Ashmont Hill, where her boxer, Roxy, awaits a stroll to Peabody Square.

But Foley and her four-legged friend often find themselves alone there. Against the cacophony of buses pulling away, the beep-beep-beep of cars dashing up and down Dorchester Avenue, and the screeching brakes of nearby trolleys, Foley said pedestrians are so rare in Peabody Square they are "like aliens."

A daily commuter, she is frequently in and out of the Ashmont T station, with its graffiti, cracked walkways, and cold warehouse feel, and she misses having places to gather socially there with other residents.

"It's kind of a pass-through for people trying to get somewhere else. People are looking at you weird if you stand there for more than five minutes," said Foley, who has lived in the neighborhood 18 years. "It would be nice to have clusters of people chatting and enjoying the surrounding area."

She wants the station to be more than just a stop for the 17,176 daily commuters who use its subways, buses, and trolleys, and like many other residents, she hopes the upcoming extreme makeover of Dorchester's largest and busiest station will be the cornerstone of a comeback for Peabody Square.

Taking a cue from the rebirth of Davis Square, with its eclectic mix of coffee shops, benches, and bustling pedestrian traffic, the Ashmont Redesign Committee, a neighborhood advisory group, has been pitching ideas and community input to the MBTA on how to make the station, built in 1927, enhance the neighborhood rather than intrude on it.

That collaboration resulted in the unveiling last week at a community meeting of a proposed "state-of-the-art" design that will be unlike any other MBTA station, according to Barbara Boylan, MBTA director of design.

The well-attended meeting at the Parish of All Saints Church featured several renderings of the Ashmont makeover. According to the new plan, commuters would walk to and from Peabody Square on a broad brick walkway lined by granite benches shaded by honey locust trees and flanked by evergreen shrubs. Residents at the meeting seemed in favor of the proposal, with one declaring "This is absolutely beautiful."

The proposal "reflects the character and lifestyle of the neighborhood," said Boylan. "The translucent quality of this station will give a new meaning to this neighborhood."

The $40 million plan, with construction expected to begin in the fall, will feature an angled canopy of glass and steel trusses, allowing plenty of sunlight into the building. Think the linear and transparent buildings of EPCOT at Disney World.

Designs for the renovation are now 80 percent complete, and bids for a contractor will likely go out in the summer. The MBTA said the work could take up to three years to complete.

"The community's input and involvement in the process was critical to make this a reality," said Boylan.

Hopping on the T's momentum, members of the Friends of Peabody Square, under the St. Mark's Area Main Street program, hired an urban planner to help them achieve their goal of creating a more vibrant commercial strip. They see the station's facelift, with its sleek and pedestrian-friendly design, as key to their neighborhood's health and diversity.

"The station will become a fulcrum of making Peabody Square better," said Christopher Stanley, an architect who is cochair of the Ashmont Redesign Committee. "No one thinks of Peabody Square as a pedestrian zone. It has great bones. Peabody Square has these wonderful 19th-century buildings all around it. We could it make it much more pedestrian-friendly so people can enjoy the space."

At least one longtime business owner in Peabody Square is a skeptic.

"This isn't Davis or Harvard Square or a place where you can relax and go to cute little cafes and boutiques," said Paul Kelly, who with his brother Bill has operated O'Brien's Market and Liquors out of an 1884 building across the street from the station for 25 years. He has heard many times what residents want, and he has his doubts it will become reality.

"It would be great to see that, but it's not realistic," said Kelly as he strolled Dorchester Avenue on a recent Friday morning. "What the residents want is a wish list. Besides, where will you put these new businesses and restaurants?"

With neighbors pushing for more commercial development, the T asked for bids two years ago on an adjoining parcel, a roughly 50,000-square-foot parking lot used by employees. Developer Trinity Financial successfully bid for the right to build a mixed-use four-story building, with affordable housing on the top floors and commercial space on the first floor.

Michael H. Mulhern, the MBTA's general manager, sees this development as part of the answer to neighborhood complaints. The commercial space could be used for a coffeehouse or a drugstore, he suggested.

"We think we are going to have more character and lifestyle to the surrounding community by being very sensitive to the abutting neighborhood," he said. "It will help us bring our station back to a state of good repair in Dorchester."

Kelly said the area has changed since 20 years ago, when it was abuzz with pedestrians -- at least 20 percent more by his estimate.

"This street was packed in the mornings with people walking with their briefcases to catch the trains," said Kelly as he pointed to the barren swath of concrete at the northern edge of the T stop, where he sees potential space for at least two businesses.

But, he said, "people don't come here as often. They don't feel safe."

Many of the safety concerns could be attributed to some high-profile crimes in recent years.

A series of rapes in the Ashmont area in December 2001 and January 2002 had women fearful until a suspect was arrested. Four women's reports of being assaulted while walking home from the station prompted the T to temporarily offer shuttle service. Last week, Terrance L. Copeland, now 22, of East Boston, pleaded guilty to the assaults; he will be sentenced April 1. Last summer, a pedestrian was dragged to his death by a hit-and-run driver after walking out of the nearby Ashmont Grille on Talbot Avenue; there has been no arrest in that case.

But MBTA police say commuters' fears may be largely a matter of perception, that the station's decrepit state makes people ill at ease. The number of robberies at Ashmont, they said, dropped in 2003 from the previous year by 30 percent.

"It's an old station so it has an appearance that isn't attractive," said deputy chief John Martino of the MBTA police. "It obviously needs to be upgraded."

Nearly everyone agrees that attractive it is not. Kelly calls it an eyesore.

"It's a battleship-gray. It's cold and dreary," he said, pointing to the northern side of the station on Dorchester Avenue, which seems blocked off from the square. The square itself is lined by a cluster of not-exactly-upscale businesses -- a chiropractic center, a Store 24, a nail salon, a Dunkin' Donuts.

The historic Peabody Square Clock, which was recently restored but has to be wound each week by a volunteer, stands alone on a small concrete island where Dorchester and Talbot avenues converge with Ashmont Street.

Stanley walks by that island when he stops in the square for coffee and a newspaper before taking the T to work in Central Square.

"It's dark. It's dank," Stanley said of the station. He said he moved to the area three years ago because of its diversity, but he can't seem to talk his friends into meeting him in Peabody Square for drinks or coffee. "It doesn't have a positive reputation. The only thing that makes it worthwhile is knowing we are getting a new station."

Another business owner said the renovation can only improve the square so much.

Ira Christopher, owner of Psychic Works of the Creator, a fortune-telling and card-reading business on Dorchester Avenue, believes the revival of the square is pegged to the economy.

"If people don't have money, how are they going to spend money here?" he said. Only when people's finances improve, will they be willing to spend it in the area, he said.

But residents aren't sitting around waiting for that to happen.

St. Mark's Main Street group hired urban planners Gail Sullivan Associates to work with the Friends of Peabody Square to study ways to draw more businesses to the area. They want a stylish restaurant or a coffeehouse to be a social magnet in the square.

That should be part of the appeal of living in an urban place, said Foley, an environmental health coordinator for Health Services Partnership in Fields Corner.

"A lot of people say, 'If only Dorchester had a place where I could walk to the gym, or walk to a coffee shop, or walk to a nice place to have lunch or a nice place to have dinner,' " said Foley.

"You think of living in the city, and it's convenient. You choose to live in the city so you can walk and go to places and spend time."

Stanley is optimistic the new wave of change coming to Ashmont will bring that kind of transformation to the area.

"If you put people in a space, you begin to change it for the better," he said.

From The Boston Globe

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SAVIN HILL STATION RENOVATIONS

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Project Description

The existing Savin Hill Red Line station, located on Savin Hill Avenue, was originally constructed in 1927. Station and platform upgrades were made in 1982 when the Red Line's tracks were replaced, but the station was never fully reconstructed, as it will be currently.

The new Savin Hill Station, designed by Stull and Lee, Inc., involves a complete replacement of platforms, all building systems, and the entire station structure. The 1920s-era platforms and headhouse will be demolished and replaced with new platforms, a larger headhouse set back from the street, and a glass enclosed waiting area overlooking the train platforms. Additionally, the station will be fully accessible and barrier-free after the planned addition of two new elevators and an escalator. The new station will feature state-of the-art amenities, including LED display signs, updated communications and security systems, along with new lighting, tactile warning strips on the platforms, and a new palette of durable, colorful finishes on the interior.

The new brick and glass headhouse, with its vaulted metal roof, signifies not only the station's importance in the daily life of the neighborhood, but also civic pride. The contemporary architecture, with its scale and careful detailing, compliments the neighborhood by respecting the nearby residential and commercial buildings.

Savin Hill station is being constructed concurrently with two other Dorchester branch stations at Shawmut and Fields Corner.

From MBTA.com

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FIELDS CORNER STATION RENOVATIONS

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Project Description

Fields Corner station in Dorchester is an intermodal station, serving as a transfer point between the MBTA's Red Line subway and several bus routes. The station provides direct "T" access to the neighborhoods and commercial areas of Geneva and Dorchester Avenues.

The Fields Corner station modernization project involves demolition of the old station enclosure and the restructuring and lowering of the busway. This reconfiguration will facilitate pedestrian-friendly access and provide room for a new entrance and busway along the south side of the station. Bus traffic will be routed to enable ride-side platform drop-off and pick-up and easy transfer to the new subway station lobby. The proposed new design also includes a new escalator on the inbound platform and two new elevators.

Charles Park along Charles Street will also be renovated with this project and will provide a safe, accessible path to the station.

New Automatic Fare Collection equipment will be installed in the lobby, and there will be all-new canopy roof structures covering the platforms, with new platform finishes, lighting and signage, and other patron and safety and security improvements. These include a police substation, surveillance cameras, and customer assistance intercoms. The design is a state-of-the-art new station for this neighborhood, in contrast to the old facility. The architect is Cambridge Seven Associates, Inc.

From MBTA.com

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SHAWMUT STATION RENOVATIONS

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Project Description

Shawmut Station on the MBTA's Red Line is comprised of a 1929 neo-classical one story brick headhouse with subsurface platforms off of the commercial street of Dorchester Avenue, located on a neighborhood street near Clementine Park in Dorchester. The station is adjacent to the commercial street of Dorchester Avenue in Dorchester, situated on a smaller neighborhood street near Clementine Park.

The major work on the station includes restoring the headhouse, creating new barrier free access with two new elevators to easily reach the platforms. The existing tunnel cap will provide ample opportunity for landscaped improvements along the pedestrian paths of travel which connect Melville and Mather Streets. The community has jointly worked through ideas for this new landscaped area and envision it as "Shawmut Gardens" : a new Victorian-style park.

This station is designed by Cambridge Seven Associates, Inc. Cambridge, MA.

From MBTA.com

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MATTAPAN STATION RENOVATIONS

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Project Description

Mattapan station is the terminus of the Mattapan-Ashmont trolley line. The renovation project includes new station platforms, canopies, shelters, signage, lighting and landscaping. The project will also include construction of a new two-story building to be inhabited by MBTA police, bus operations and dispatching offices, plus a community room. In addition, the project will be coordinated with a new transit-oriented development (TOD) on an adjacent lot to the north.

The designer is Baker/Wohl Architects, Inc of Boston.

From MBTA.com

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