MGNA: Medford Green Line Neighborhood Alliance

Information about our green line extension.



Month: June, 2013

College Ave. station design presentation posted

25 June, 2013 (21:44) | Community Event, News | By: Editor

 

The PowerPoint presentation from the College Avenue Station design update meeting of June 20 is posted to the Green Line Extension project website.

The presentation shows the design developments over the last eight months including the station layout, exterior and interior views, floor plan and amenities.

College Avenue station design meeting notes

21 June, 2013 (08:50) | Community Event, News | By: Editor

Here are some notes from Thursday night’s design update meeting for the College Avenue Station on the Green Line Extension, attended by about 75 people at St. Clement School in Medford.

Medford Mayor Michael J. McGlynn welcomed the attendees and said the pre-meeting feedback he received from residents viewing the designs on display were that they wanted the station to tie in more with the architecture of Tufts University and the surrounding area, and were concerned about the height of the station, bridge and pedestrian walkway, and with who would maintain the walkway. He also said he would like the history of the community to be reflected in the station, such as the brickmaking in the area and Stearns Village.  “There are a myriad of other issues, but we’re still in the early stages, and everyone has been very cooperative in working together to make sure that the project moves along,” McGlynn said. “I’m sure everyone [from the project team] will stay until everyone’s questions are answered tonight.”

Representatives from the project management and design teams then provided an overview of progress to date toward the 60% station design stage, which they expect to reach by September 1.

Presenting and/or answering questions were Karen Arpino-Shaffer, Deputy Program Manager, HDR/Gilbane; Greg Yates, Project Manager, AECOM; Elton Elperlin, Architect, AECOM; Mary Ainsley, Director of Design and Construction, MBTA; Josh Burgel, HDR/Gilbane team/Crosby, Schlessinger, Smallridge; Bill Lyons, Traffic Engineer, project team; and Michael Epp, Architect, HDR/Gilbane team/Kleinfelder Associates.

The overall site plan, orientation and station access is essentially unchanged from the design presented last year. The station headhouse is reached from a plaza abutting the College Avenue bridge and features three entrances. The plaza is designed to be a neighborhood space with built-in seating on stone benches.

The College Avenue bridge does not need to be rebuilt, but a right-turn lane onto Boston Avenue will be added north of the large MRWA water pipe that currently is next to the bridge and cannot be relocated.  Officials described the water pipe as an opportunity to creatively treat/wrap the structure in a way that fit into the station and surrounding area. “We are committed to working with the community to figure out a solution that is an enhancement and not a detriment to the community,” Arpino-Shaffer said.

The right-turn lane will have a traffic signal and an “Walk” light, and be wide enough (approximately 18 feet) for a car to pass a stopped car dropping off or picking up a passenger, although the lane is not intended for drop-off/pick-up use. The project team is looking into creative ways to wrap/cover the water pipe.

The station concourse and platform extend north, away from College Avenue (toward Winthrop Street). The station platform will be 27 feet wide and covered with an uplifted canopy extending about 12 inches over the tracks. PA speakers will be closely spaced to require less volume.

A pedestrian path will create access from the Burget Avenue neighborhood to the station. A drop-off area for The Ride and other vehicles will be on the westbound side of Boston Avenue.

The most significant change to the station structure itself is the removal of a third-floor  penthouse, lowering the height of the building and giving it a more “neighborly scale” but still a prominence over the downhill sloping College Avenue. The electrical and mechanical systems from the penthouse were relocated to a mezzanine level underneath the concourse.

Another major change is the removal of a large, unsightly emergency egress tower that was to be located in between the tracks north of the platform. The tower would have routed passengers up some 25 to 30 feet and over the Green Line catenary wires to a ramp system leading to Boston Avenue. The MBTA received a variance from the state that will allow passengers, in the case of an evacuation, to cross the Green Line tracks at ground level after leaving the platform, then ascend a ramp system that will be built adjacent to the retaining wall along Boston Avenue.

Also, a track design and operational change has resulted in the station project zone to be reduced by about 700 feet. This was achieved by having a cross-over for the trolleys on the south side of the station (under the College Avenue bridge and toward the Tufts athletic fields) rather than north of the platform. This will reduce the noise for the abutting residents north of the station. There will be fewer sound walls along the Boston Avenue side of the right-of-way, but the number of sounds walls will not change on the Burget Avenue side.

Bicycle parking consists of 101 spaces (72 enclosed, 29 exterior), which exceeds by 44% the commitment of 70 spaces at College Avenue Station that was in the Environmental Assessment for the project.

Since College Avenue is a terminus station, the MBTA is requesting the construction of a booth for an inspector who will be stationed on-site to ensure timely departures and headways. The booth will be at far end of the platform. It would be moved to the Route 16 station when it is built as the permanent terminus. The College Avenue station is being designed so as to not preclude an eventual extension to Route 16.

AUDIENCE COMMENTS/Q&A
Burget Avenue resident Laurel Ruma, a neighborhood representative on the GLX Design Working Group, expressed frustration with the lack of meetings of the group over the last 18 months. The project team responded by saying it was engaging the DWG at a high level, included members in an open house at the project team’s new office this spring, and invites their participation and input in all general public meetings. However, the project team acknowledged that it was trying to determine the best use of the DWG going forward as the project moves toward final design and construction.

Doug Carr, another Medford resident on the Design Working Group, said the station design shows some great improvements overall, including the reduced massing and the removal of the concrete emergency egress tower. He also suggested considering moving the bus stop from College Avenue to Boston Avenue to improve transit connections and give passengers easier and safer access to the station. He pointed out that some of the views depicted of the station, particularly from College Avenue, were inaccurate because they conveniently failed to show the larger water pipe in the middle of the street. Arpino-Shaffer agreed that the pipe should be depicted but it was not purposely left off, nor was there was ever an intent to not show the pipe.

Has the platform length grown since the last design? No. The platform will be built for 3-car Green Line trains. However, the station is designed to accommodate future 4-cars trains, and footers will be poured to be in place for the construction of an expanded platform. However, the potential adoption of 4-car Green Line trains is many years if not decades away, because platform enlargement also would be needed at stations in the central subway system such as Park Street and Copley.

How will bus routes be integrated? The project team is meeting with MBTA bus operations to discuss this matter in general, but the bus routing analysis will be done in a separate study with a full public process.

Who will maintain Burget Avenue path and will it extend to Sunset Ave.? Path maintenance is to be determined; it will not extend to Sunset Ave.

The Burget Avenue path is not wide enough for bicyclists, but they likely will use it anyway. How will this be prevented? Bicyclists may walk their bikes on the path, or should access the station via the street network.

Southbound drivers on Boston Avenue are likely to attempt U-turns after dropping off passengers. How will this be prevented? Project team does not anticipate such behavior. The stations are designed to be community-oriented, not regional stations, with no structured parking and focused on bus connections and bicycle and pedestrian access.

What is the project timetable? The College Avenue station is scheduled to open in mid-2019 along with the stations at Ball Square, Lowell Street, and Gilman Square. The stations at Union Square, Washington Street, and the new Lechmere Station are scheduled to open in mid-2017. The construction timetable is somewhat contingent on approval to proceed from the Federal Transit Administration.

What is the funding source? The MBTA is applying to the Federal Transportation Administration’s New Starts program for one-half of the $1 billion total cost, with the state paying for the other half. If the New Starts application is unsuccessful, the state will pay for the entire project. A decision from FTA on New Starts is expected some time in 2015.

What is status of maintenance/storage facility? Design is proceeding, albeit more slowly than on the stations, due to the complexity of the site and an extensive value engineering process. Work has begun regarding all required property acquisitions and business relocations. A public meeting on the maintenance/storage facility is likely for the fall.

Other comments: More pick-up/drop-off areas should be added, as this will be a common practice given that this is a terminus station. . . . The shortcomings of the College Avenue station as a terminus highlight the Route 16 station as a superior terminus location. . . . The high curb (10 to 12 inches) planned for along College Avenue is potentially unsafe and should be re-evaluated. . . .The ridership, traffic and pedestrian data that has been studied and modeled for the station provides an excellent opportunity to create a computer simulation that would show the movement of all users and how they would interact. . . . Another resident expressed disappointment in the lack of regular meetings of the Design Working Group, whose creation had given her confidence that neighborhood issues would be addressed.

+++

This was the last of five station design meetings this month. The PowerPoint presentation and meeting notes will be posted to the project website.

Additional photo images are available on Facebook.

Additional public meetings will be held in the fall and winter, including one to present options for sound wall surface options. Meetings also will be held with abutters regarding specific issues. Future station design meetings will deal with materials, aesthetics, lighting, etc., in addition to design revisions.

– Ken Krause
Medford Green Line Neighborhood Alliance

Lechmere Station design meeting notes

19 June, 2013 (09:36) | Community Event, News | By: Editor

 

Here are some notes from Tuesday night’s design update meeting for the new Lechmere Station on the Green Line Extension, attended by about 130 people at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center.

Representatives from the project management and design teams provided an overview of progress to date toward the 60% station design stage, which they expect to reach by September 1.

Presenting were Karen Arpino-Shaffer, Deputy Program Manager, HDR/Gilbane; Greg Yates, Project Manager, AECOM; Randy Henke, Deputy Project Manager/Director of Design, HNTB;  Elton Elperlin, Architect, AECOM; Tom O’Brien, Managing Director, HYM Investment Group (North Point developer); and John Copley, Principal, Copley Wolff Design Group (landscape architects).

The Lechmere Station is being moved from its current location – a terminus with a turnaround along Cambridge Street across from First Street and Second Streets – to a site across Monsignor O’Brien Highway in order for the extension to proceed along the existing Lowell and Fitchburg commuter rail right-of-ways.

The focus of the design team has been to closely coordinate with the city of Cambridge and the surrounding North Point development to integrate the station into the neighborhood, and also to make the station area more pedestrian friendly.

“Cambridge is a city of squares, and for too long Lechmere has been burdened by the fact there is a highway running through it that is very difficult to cross,” said Tom O’Brien of North Point developer HYM, which is responsible for paying for the improvements to O’Brien Highway and other nearby streets. “We feel strongly that this area needs to be pedestrian friendly. It needs to be a real square. That’s what we’re trying to create. We want to make both sides of Monsignor O’Brien Boulevard – and note that we are calling it ‘Boulevard’ and not ‘Highway’ – to be a great place for people to find places to shop, eat, walk, or make their way to their buses or the T.”

The station has two headhouses – North and South, connected by the boarding platform.

The North Headhouse is in between Water Street and North First Street and has patron entrance/exit at each end. On the lower level of the North Headhouse on the Water Street side is the pick-up/drop-off area for The Ride and buses, which enter and exit on.

The South Headhouse has been moved from the previous design to south of East Street. This allows for a longer platform to be built that will accommodate future 4-car Green Line trains. In addition, a patron entrance has been added to the south end of the South Headhouse, which previously was exit-only.

Architect Elton Elperlin described the station design as “simple, clear and open” with the North Headhouse sitting “tall and proud as a beacon” and offering great 360-degree views.

Other modifications to the station since the last design include:

+ Creation of more covered bicycle parking on the site of the former South Headhouse. The design calls for 338 bike parking spaces, 304 of them enclosed. The commitment for bicycle parking at Lechmere in the Environmental Assessment report for the GLX was 250 spaces.

+ Relocating parking to a lot northeast of the station that will also be used for buses when Lechmere Station will be closed during construction and riders will be bused to North Station.

+ Design of the Community Path extension from where it departs Washington Street station, through the Lechmere Station area to the North Point development.

PEDESTRIAN IMPROVEMENTS
The work to improve pedestrian access and safety is ongoing and far from finished, in particular improving connectivity across O’Brien Highway at Water Street and First Street, but the following changes are currently recommended:

+ Reducing Monsignor O’Brien Highway from 6 lanes to 5, with the elimination of one northbound right-hand turn lane.

+ Use of high quality, distinctive paving systems other than asphalt to better identify pedestrian crossing zones.

+ Improved and more consistent lighting, including brighter, pedestrian-oriented lighting to accentuate pedestrian zones

+ Addition of trees on both sides of O’Brien Highway and in median, both large “boulevard” trees and more tightly spaced “columnar” trees to provide shade, define area, calm traffic

+ Work with city of Cambridge and MassHighway to improve the signal timing and increase the “Walk” times for O’Brien Highway intersections

AUDIENCE COMMENTS/QUESTIONS
+ Relocate Glass Factory Condominium parking area from prominent parcel in front of North Headhouse? MBTA considers the Glass Factory condos a “uniquely impacted” building already and chose not to further affect the residents with a parking change.

+ When will Lechmere Station have to be shut down? The preliminary plan anticipated the station being closed for about 14 months prior to the new station opening in mid-2017, but project officials think that time frame can be reduced “by several months.”

+ Height of tracks behind Glass Factory condos? About 16 feet from the road to the underside of the steel, plus another 2 to 2.5 feet to the track level. Height to top of trains is about 24 to 26 feet.

+ Bus service to the East Cambridge area was removed without any public process and should be restored. Many residents and visitors/workers at the Registry of Deeds, probate court, and mall are suffering from the loss of these buses.

+ Other comments: Citizens should continue to push for further reduction of traffic lanes on O’Brien Highway; exterior of station is unappealing and uninviting, resembling an airport entrance more than a pedestrian-friendly boulevard – make it welcoming; consider making Water Street one-way.

More photos of Lechmere Station design images are available on Facebook.

Remaining station design update meeting:

Thursday, June 20
College Avenue Station
6 to 8 p.m.
St. Clement School
579 Boston Ave., Medford

See the GLX project website for more information.

– Ken Krause
Medford Green Line Neighborhood Alliance