New Commuter Rail Station To Be Completed By 2021

Chelsea’s new commuter rail station will be bigger, handicap accessible, and should be ready for passengers by the end of 2021.

Representatives from the MBTA, as well as the design firm and contractor behind the project, held an informational meeting on the project at City Hall last week.

It came just one week after Gov. Charlie Baker and a cadre of state and local official celebrated a groundbreaking on the site adjacent to the Market Basket.

City Manager Thomas Ambrosino said the relocated commuter rail station, which will be between Everett Avenue and Third Street and behind the Market Basket, is the second phase of the Silver Line project.

“This project does have some good benefits for the city,” said Ambrosino, although he admitted the city has had battles with the MBTA on a number of other transportation issues.

Ambrosino said that while work has just gotten underway, the public meeting on the project was delayed slightly to enhance attendance from a potential summer meeting.

The MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board approved a $32.3 million contract for the project earlier this year.

When complete, the new Chelsea Station will be an intermodal facility that connects the Newburyport/Rockport Commuter Rail Lines to the  Silver Line 3-Chelsea service, which began operating in April 2018.

Frank Astone, project manager from design engineers AECOM, said the new station will be fully handicap accessible, with high-level platforms four feet above the tracks. This will allow level boarding for all commuters, Astone said.

In addition, there will be new canopies, emergency call boxes, new signage, and an extensive lighting system on the platform.

“We want to make sure people feel safe and secure,” said Astone.

While the design specifics of the project have been part of the public record for several months, there was a significant focus during last week’s meeting on the anticipated construction impact.

“During construction, we have to maintain commuter rail service,” said Astone. “That’s why it is going to take 2 1/2-years for construction. We need to keep the trains running at all times.”

However, due to the nature of the work, Astone said there up to six weekend outages that will be announced ahead of time to facilitate specialized construction.

During those weekend outages, the MBTA will bus passengers between Lynn and North Station.

Partial roadway closures will be minimal, typically for utility and paving work at railroad grade crossings, with police details in place.

Astone also said there is a small possibility for full roadway closures during the replacement of the grade crossings, with detours that will be coordinated with the city.

Several residents questioned how the commuter rail construction will be integrated with other large-scale projects in Chelsea.

“There is a lot of activity taking place behind Market Basket, so there will be less of an impact than there is for some of the projects,” said Ambrosino. “Most of the impact will be out of the way, in some sense.”

There were also questions about how MBTA bus service outside of the Silver Line would be incorporated into the new commuter rail station schedule. Several residents noted that the 111 bus stops very close to the current commuter rail station, and asked if the bus route would be adjusted to stop near the new station.

MBTA project manager Dan Beaulieu noted that he could not speak definitively on the bus issue, but would check with the proper officials.

Parking near the new station also came up, with suggestions that the MBTA look into an agreement with Market Basket to use their property for some parking spaces.

“We have started conversations with their real estate company regarding parking, and we will discuss it further,” said Beaulieu

Over the next two years, Ambrosino said there will continue to be meetings between the city and the MBTA addressing many of the issues raised last week.

“I recognize there are a lot of unanswered questions with respect to this construction on the operations side, and those have to be solved over the next two years,” said the City Manager.

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