For more than 20 years, the Silver Line coming to Chelsea was a dream on paper.
Now, the Silver Line (SL3) service is up and running for more than a year and the final piece of that puzzle – the commuter rail station behind Market Basket – is now starting construction and will be in place soon.
Last Friday, City and State officials – and even special guest former City Manager Jay Ash – gathered on the site adjacent to the Basket to perform a ceremonial groundbreaking and cheer the final leg of the project that so many dreamed about for so long.
With a Notice to Proceed awarded to A.A. Will in June 2019 and early work beginning last month, the brand new ChelseaCommuter Rail Station will be relocated approximately 1,800 feet west of the existing station for easier, more convenient transfers to the adjacent SL3 stop in Chelsea. The new station will also be a completely accessible facility and feature high-level platforms, new sidewalks, ramps, stairways, lighting, signage, canopies, benches, and windscreens. The
station is expected to be complete in 2021. With station construction costs of $32 million, the total project budget, which includes administrative, project, and support services, is $37.7 million.
Governor Charlie Baker, MassDOT Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack, and MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak joined municipal leaders, elected officials, and local stakeholder groups on Friday.
“Relocating and upgrading the Chelsea Commuter Rail Station is an important part of delivering better service in Chelsea, furthering our administration’s work to deliver a more reliable system for customers,” said Gov. Baker. “This project will transform Chelsea Station into a multi-modal, fully accessible transit station that increases access to jobs and housing for MBTA riders.”
Pollack said the station was part of a major capital plan that the MBTA is carrying out for the next five years.
“The MBTA is executing a five-year, $8 billion Capital Investment Program that prioritizes core system investments and customer improvements such as this Chelsea Commuter Rail Station,” said Pollack. “Thank you to everyone who has supported our capital investments and who have been our partners as we modernize the T, including the Fiscal and Management Control Board, members of the Massachusetts Legislature, local leaders, transportation advocates, and our customers.”
While the T has faced sharp criticism in about every corner of Greater Boston lately, Poftak said the commuter rail station and the Silver Line serice are proof positive that the T is making progress.
“Chelsea Station is proof of the progress we’re making to build a better MBTA,” said Poftak. “Once complete, Chelsea Station will be a multi-modal transit hub that will improve our services by providing more travel options for our customers.”
Serving the HYPERLINK “https://www.mbta.com/schedules/CR-Newburyport/timetable” \t “_blank” Newburyport/Rockport Commuter Rail Line, the HYPERLINK “https://www.mbta.com/stops/place-ER-0046” \t “_blank” current Chelsea Commuter Rail Station is inconvenient for transfers to other modes of service, including the SL3. The current Chelsea Station is also not accessible for persons with disabilities either and sits in a very precarious place for pedestrians and vehicles.
“This is a great day for the residents of Chelsea,” said Senator Sal DiDomenico. “This new Commuter Rail station will be a huge benefit for Chelsea and provide a modern and accessible station for all commuters. I look forward to the opening of this station in 2021.”
State Rep. Dan Ryan said it’s one of many investments now being unveiled in his district of Chelsea and Charlestown.
“This is part of a major investment in my district so that we are no longer pass through communities,” he said. “We will have the same access to the Commuter Rail and Silver Line and then we will no longer have to wave to them as they passed through our community taking other people into Boston.”
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he was grateful to state and federal leaders to continue working to get funding for the Phase 2 part of the Silver Line, which included the Commuter Rail Station.
“It wasn’t certain at one point, but I want to thank everyone for pushing to make sure we got that critical funding,” he said.
Council President DamaliVidot said having access to the Commuter Rail will help to lift low-income people out of poverty by giving them better access to jobs in the Seaport and South Station.
“I am grateful for the investments on behalf of the MBTA into modernizing our transit infrastructure,” said Chelsea City Council President DamaliVidot. “Having a robust transit system that serves more of our hard-working families is vital to our quality of life and an important tool in lifting folks out of poverty.”
Former City Manager Jay Ash was also in attendance, having been a key leader to help bring the Silver Line to Chelsea many years ago.
“It’s great to see how everything here has come together,” he said. “You will have one-seat access to either North Station or South Station. Think about that in terms of the importance of accessing the economy.”
During construction, MBTA crews and contractors will also completely demolish the current Chelsea Station, upgrade rail signaling systems and traffic crossings, make improvements to traffic signals at three intersections that cross the Silver Line busway (Everett Avenue, Spruce Street, and Arlington Street), and improve transit signal priority for the SL3 in Chelsea, enhancing safety and reliability of the Silver Line service through the immediate area.
Construction will include utility work and the drilling of new foundations for the station’s new platforms and canopies. As a result, there may be area road closures and/or traffic detours, though all pedestrian and bicycle access at SL3 stations will remain the same. Traffic crossing work will also require six weekend shutdowns in commuter rail service between 2019 and 2021, which are currently being scheduled.
To learn more about this project to reconstruct Chelsea Commuter Rail Station and its related impacts, customers, area residents, and the public are encouraged to attend a HYPERLINK “https://www.mbta.com/events/2019-09-19/chelsea-commuter-rail-station-public-information-meeting” \t “_blank” Public Information Meeting being held at Chelsea City Hall on Thursday, September 19, at 6 p.m.