Mattapan station eyed for more revamp in ’12

State transportation officials are expected to pour an additional $500,000 into the Mattapan Square MBTA station, which opened in 2009 after $11 million in renovations.The additional renovations were expected to start this fall, but will likely be pushed back until next spring because community members have demanded more time to review the T’s latest restoration plans.

The original renovation, which at one point closed the trolley line for 18 months, was the first reconstruction of the station since the late 1920s, adding platforms, an MBTA police substation, and other improvements. The station serves as the terminus for the trolley run and serves as a stop for a number of buses from Dudley Square and Forest Hills.

But officials admit the project fell short, leaving behind a lack of bus stop signage, inadequate lighting, and poorly designed benches and shelters. Since then, the signage has been updated and replaced, cameras have been placed on the platforms, and lighting has been enhanced.

With the use of federal stimulus funds, the upcoming work will involve revamping shelters to better handle harsh weather, with three overhead heaters instead of one. The T also plans to re-time the traffic signal in front of the station; feature artwork from Artists for Humanity and a community bulletin board on the platform; add more bike racks and better neighborhood ramps; place a clock atop the arch that serves as an entrance to the station; and improve drainage around the complex.

The plans were unveiled at a Tuesday night meeting at the Mattapan Branch Library with combative community residents. Barbara Crichlow, a local activist, said previous transportation officials had promised bigger bus shelters. She suggested officials should funnel funds towards better shelters instead of spending money on a clock.

“We are doing as much as we can with the funding,” said Erik Scheier, project director for the MBTA’s operations department. “We wish we had more.” He added of the stimulus funds: “We’re under a lot of pressure to spend this money quickly.”

Asked by one audience member if the agency could recoup some of the money spent on the original renovations because of the badly designed benches, officials said they would look into it but were unsure if that was possible.

Another meeting is planned for next month as officials look into alternatives for the benches. The agency is forming a working group to hash out the bench issues.