Lawmakers split after transportation officials stick with Blue Hill commuter rail stop
Top transportation officials are sticking with their choice to construct a commuter rail station between the Blue Hill Ave. and Cummins Highway overpasses, despite opposition from the area’s abutters. A top senator has also weighed in, saying he remains unconvinced about the location.
Transportation Secretary Jeffrey Mullan and MBTA General Manager Rich Davey met with local lawmakers and some neighborhood residents on Tuesday in state Sen. Jack Hart’s State House office to discuss the siting of the station.
Some Mattapan residents have pushed for the re-location of the commuter rail station, on the Fairmount Line near Woodhaven St., saying the station will hurt property values.
The Blue Hill Avenue station is one of four new stops being added to the line that runs between Readville and South Station. Construction of the station was supposed to begin over a year ago, but elected officials pressed the MBTA to stop and assess whether the site near Woodhaven St. was the best location.
Davey told the Reporter on Wednesday that the proposal to build the station where it was originally planned still needs the approval of the MBTA board and construction remains 15 months away. “We still have a long process to get through,” he said.
Davey defended siting the station where it was originally proposed, saying the location is the most feasible because of its proximity to Mattapan Square. “Through our review, this station location makes the most sense,” Davey said.
Every alternative location the MBTA had studied would have forced the transit agency to take private property, he said.
He added that in order to accommodate residents, the station platform will be between the train tracks, instead of on opposite sides of the tracks. The move eliminates the need for boring and blasting near abutting homes.
The Department of Transportation and MBTA are overseeing the construction of the Fairmount line and the 800-foot platform at the Blue Hill Avenue station, which could spur economic development in Mattapan Square.
Noting that the abutters remain dissatisfied with the MBTA’s recommendation, Sen. Hart (D-South Boston) said he is not yet convinced that the chosen location was the best site. “I’m not there yet,” he said.
Hart said he was looking for a “win-win” situation, and the T “didn’t achieve that.”
The T’s decision is also splitting the local delegation, with Reps. Russell Holmes (D-Mattapan) and Linda Dorcena Forry (D-Dorchester) supporting the transit agency.
“It’s the one that serves the community the greatest,” Holmes said.
“We looked at every solution we could,” he added.
Forry, who is married to Reporter managing editor Bill Forry, said lawmakers will work to ensure noise barriers and other mitigation measures will be put in place for the project. “For me, I know it is tough for the residents of Woodhaven,” she said. “I just hope the conversation and the dialogue will continue.”
Residents were expected to discuss the issue at neighborhood meeting on Friday night at the Blue Hill Church of Christ in Mattapan.