Thursday, October 6, 2011

South Station is on the fast track to expansion

©2011 Boston to a T
South Station, which is New England's second largest transportation center (right behind Logan Airport), is finally going to be getting some well deserved attention. The station, which opened for operation in 1899, is currently the home to the MBTA's commuter rail service, Red line, and Silver line, Amtrak's Acela Express, Northeast Regional, and Lake Shore Limited, and a full service bus terminal.

Currently the station operates way beyond its capacity. Its 13 tracks are just not enough to fulfill the needs of the passenger rail network that is running into the hub. The station is also expecting about a 50% increase in High-Speed passenger rail travel over the coming years. This is why the T has been looking diligently for money to expand the station.

The searching has paid off though! The T has been awarded a $32.5 Million "planning grant" as the first step towards expanding and revitalizing the historic station. The grant will go towards developing a conceptual design, as well as complete preliminary environmental reviews.

Some of the improvements and expansions that the MBTA hopes to accomplish at the satiation over the coming years include:

Courtesy: MBTA
  • Development of a new layover facility for train storage during off-peak times
  • Improvements to existing tracks, platforms, interlockings, passenger facilities, and other infrastructure
  • Demolition and relocation of an existing, adjacent U.S. Postal Service General Mail Facility to construct new passenger facilities, including tracks, platforms, waiting areas with connections to existing platforms and tracks and the adjacent South Station Bus Terminal
  • Design passenger enhancements through improved streetscape, pedestrian, bicycle, local transit, and vehicular facilities in and around the station, including the re-opening of Dorchester Avenue for public use
  • Develop a cost estimate for the construction phase of the project
  • Consideration of opportunities for joint public/private development over an expanded South Station. Such development agreements exist at New York’s Penn Station and Union Station in Washington, DC.
A completion date has yet to be set for the project but the preliminary stages are set to take a few years.  

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