Construction workers set up shop this week at the Talbot Ave. commuter rail site, one of the four stops in Dorchester and Mattapan that are being added to a line that runs between South Station in downtown Boston and the Readville neighborhood.
Work started in early November on the $15.9 million project, which also includes the reconstruction of the railroad bridges at Talbot and Woodrow avenues. The Park Street footbridge is expected to come down later this week.
The Talbot station, located six blocks west of Codman Square, will include 800-foot long high-level platforms, passenger shelters, new lighting, a closed circuit surveillance system, and public telephones.
“I see this as a real model for collaboration with community groups and local leaders in the city of Boston… who feel this project can jump-start neighborhood economic development,” said Richard Davey, general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Agency (MBTA).
Construction is expected to continue through the winter, though transportation officials say the station will not be finished until 2012, months after a court-mandated Dec. 2011 deadline for the four stations to be constructed. The delay has been attributed to the extra time officials took to gather funding for the station and to time taken for public input on the station’s design.
“We want to make sure we do it right, not do it twice,” Davey said.
Construction on the Four Corners commuter rail station, also part of the Fairmount Line and located at Washington St. and Geneva Ave., has been under way since January. Davey said the $17.7 million station will likely be finished closer to the Dec. 2011 deadline.
Construction is set to start soon on the Newmarket station, next to the South Bay Shopping Center.
The fourth station, originally slated to be built between the overpasses of Blue Hill Ave. and Cummins Highway, is proving controversial. Earlier this year, transportation officials met with angry neighborhood residents – potential abutters to the planned station – who complained that it would lead to lower property values in the densely-populated neighborhood and to other “quality of life issues.” At one point, state Sen. Jack Hart walked out of a meeting over what transportation officials called a miscommunication about whether a final decision had been made on siting the station.
Davey told the Reporter this week that transportation officials were still weighing all their options, and that each alternative presents its own challenges. “I guess the bottom line is that there’s no perfect site,” he said.
Davey said he has been working with local lawmakers and city councillors as well as concerned abutters. “No final decision has been made,” he said. “We’ve really worked hard to try to accommodate the residents’ concerns.”
He added that transportation officials are “close” to a decision. “As a result, it’s clearly going to go well beyond the deadline of 2011,” he said of the construction of that station.
As for the Talbot Ave. station, those who work in Codman Square are praising the project.
“For the first time since 1944, Codman Square will have a direct line to South Station,” said Richard Heath, a community organizer with the Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation.
Added Bill Walczak, executive director of the Codman Square Health Center: “I’m very appreciative of the fact that this rail line that traversed Dorchester for the last 100 years is finally stopping in Dorchester.”
Walczak said the stations will also provide neighborhood residents with access to jobs downtown. “The jobs are in Boston and easy access to Boston is going to help neighborhood folks,” he said.