The red neon artwork The End of the Red Line can be seen suspended above the train (November 2019).
|Location||11 Cambridgepark West|
|Owned by||Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority|
|Line(s)||Red Line Northwest Extension|
|Platforms||1 island platform|
|Connections||MBTA Bus: 62, 67, 76, 79, 83, 84, 350, 351|
|Parking||2,733 spaces in garage|
|Bicycle facilities||~500 spaces in three secured cages|
|Opened||March 30, 1985|
|Passengers (2013)||11,221 (weekday average boardings)|
Alewife is an intermodal transit station in Cambridge, Massachusetts that is the northern terminus of the MBTA's Red Line subway system. It is also a hub for several MBTA Bus lines. Alewife station is located in the North Cambridge neighborhood, adjacent to the highway interchange between Alewife Brook Parkway and the Massachusetts Route 2 freeway, with ramps providing direct access to and from the expressway portion of Route 2. Its facilities include a multi-level parking garage with 2,733 spaces, three secured bicycle cages, a busway with an enclosed waiting room for bus passengers, and connections to the Minuteman Bikeway, Cambridge Linear Park, and the Fitchburg Cutoff Path.
Alewife opened on March 30, 1985. Originally only to be a temporary terminus during construction of the Arlington section of the Red Line, Alewife became the permanent terminus when further extension was canceled. The station is named after Alewife Brook (a nearby tributary of the Mystic River) which in turn is named after the alewife fish which inhabits the Mystic River system. The station features six pieces of public art which were built as part of the first stage of the Arts on the Line program.
Boston transportation planners expected to build an Inner Belt Expressway within the Route 128 corridor in the 1960s. Massachusetts Route 2 was expanded to eight lanes to carry large volumes of radial traffic, east from Alewife Brook Parkway, through Cambridge and Somerville to the Inner Belt at the border of eastern Somerville and eastern Cambridge. When the Inner Belt was canceled, Route 2 became a high-capacity highway which terminated at what was little more than major city streets. When the westward extension of the Red Line was being designed, building a transit station near the end of Route 2 with a large parking garage seemed like a way to capitalize on the original highway investment.
Until the late 1960s, there was little near the site of the Alewife station besides a largely abandoned industrial park, a chemical factory, and protected wetlands. Following principles that later came to be known as transit-oriented development, the City of Cambridge zoned the area immediately near the station for high-rise buildings, leading to the construction of the three massive Rindge Towers rental apartments in 1971. Over the next several decades, a mini-city developed with office and research and development buildings in addition to the high-rise housing.
A state law required planning the Red Line Extension so it could later be brought out to Route 128 to Lexington, via Arlington, along the route of the former Lexington and West Cambridge Railroad. The Red Line tracks extend past the station, under Route 2, and terminate in a small underground storage yard. Alewife Station was designed with a future extension of the Red Line to points northwest in mind, possibly using the MBTA's Lexington Branch right-of-way.
When the adjacent chemical plant eventually closed and was replaced by an office and hotel development, the rail spur to the plant (along a short remaining portion of the Fitchburg Cutoff) was no longer needed, and its underpass was converted to a vehicular access ramp from the station to Route 2. This design was criticized by local residents, since it forced many pedestrians to cross the fast-moving roadways on foot.
The parking garage was used heavily and filled to capacity well before the peak of morning rush hour, causing requests that it be expanded. In April 2008, the MBTA said that they did not have funds to add two levels to the parking garage, which would cost $30-35 million and add about 1300 spaces. The structure was originally designed to support two more levels, but whether the condition of the supports and building codes would still allow this expansion was not clear. In August 2018, the MBTA awarded a $5.7 million contract for garage repairs, which were needed even in the absence of funding for expansion. Work began in September 2018, and the main garage entrances were temporarily closed on October 19, 2019. Work was accelerated in March 2020 when ridership dropped during the coronavirus pandemic. Phased replacement of the garage elevators and the west platform elevator began in mid-2018, with completion planned for mid-2020.
Seven MBTA Bus routes terminate at the busway inside the Alewife garage:
- 62: Bedford VA Hospital - Alewife
- 67: Turkey Hill - Alewife
- 76: Lincoln Lab/Hanscom Air Force Base - Alewife
- 79: Arlington Heights - Alewife
- 84: Arlmont Village - Alewife
- 350: North Burlington - Alewife
- 351: Oak Park/Bedford Woods - Alewife
Route 83 terminates nearby at Russell Field because is not possible to turn left from Alewife Brook Parkway onto Rindge Avenue, preventing the bus from serving Alewife directly. The bus stop is connected to Alewife by a short spur of the Cambridge Linear Park.
Alewife station is also served by several private-carrier routes:
- The Route 128 Business Council provides daily shuttle bus services from Alewife to many companies along the Route 2 and Route 128 corridor. Five routes are open to all riders: A (Alewife Station - Wyman Street), B (Alewife Station - Prospect Hill/City Point), C (Alewife Station - Winter Street), D (Alewife Station - Winter Street), and The REV (Hartwell Area Shuttle). Two private routes to Windsor Village and Vox on Two are also run.
- Go Bus (formerly World Wide Bus) provides intercity motorcoach bus service between Alewife, Riverside, and New York City. The service began in October 2010.
There is one island platform serving two tracks. The tracks extend past the station, to store trains temporarily taken out of service.
|G||Street Level||Exits/entrances, buses, parking|
|Southbound||Red Line toward Ashmont or Braintree (Davis) → |
← Red Line termination track
|Southbound||Red Line toward Ashmont or Braintree (Davis) → |
← Red Line termination track
On September 18, 2008, two 150-bike parking cages opened at the Alewife station. Previously, access to these cages required a free special Bike CharlieCard. Beginning in 2013, the MBTA allowed any CharlieCard to be registered for bike cage access. The cages are covered, enclosed with security fences, and watched by security cameras. There is additional bike parking outside the cages.
Arts on the Line
As a part of the Red Line Northwest Extension, Alewife was included as one of the stations involved in the Arts on the Line program. This new program provided funding to bring art into the MBTA's subway stations in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was the first program of its kind in the United States, and became the model for similar movements to support public art across the country.:5
Six of the original twenty artworks are located at Alewife station. These works are:
- Untitled by Richard Fleischner - A 3-acre (12,000 m2) large environmental work containing an artificial pond and large granite blocks
- Untitled by David Davison - 200 feet (61 m) of abstractly painted, light blue tiles arranged in various ways
- Alewife Cows by Joel Janowitz - A mural of a false exit to the bus terminal with cows grazing in a pasture outside.
- Untitled (Kiss and Ride) by William Keyser, Jr. - Two sculptural benches for passengers waiting for pick-up at the station's "kiss and ride" automobile entrance
- The End of the Red Line by Alejandro and Moira Sina - 1000 neon art tubes suspended from the ceiling of the station directly over one of the tracks
- Untitled by Nancy Webb - 100 6" square tiles scattered throughout the station lobby with low relief images of plants and animals found in the Alewife Brook Reservation
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- Joint Board for the Metropolitan Master Highway Plan (1 February 1948). The Master Highway Plan for the Boston Metropolitan Area.
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- Tran Systems and Planners Collaborative (August 24, 2007). "Evaluation of MBTA Paratransit and Accessible Fixed Route Transit Services: Final Report" (PDF). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
- Flint, Anthony (February 23, 2003). "Giving density a bad name". Boston Globe – via Newspapers.com.
- Long, Tom (April 13, 2008). "'T' says it hasn't the funds to expand Alewife garage". The Boston Globe.
- "Alewife Garage Repairs". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
- Brelsford, Laura (November 26, 2019). "SWA Initiatives—November 2019" (PDF). p. 10-12.
- "Shuttle Schedules". Route 128 Business Council. Archived from the original on July 12, 2017. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
- Thomas, Sarah (2010-10-19). "NYC-bound buses will roll from Newton, Cambridge". Boston.com. Retrieved 2012-04-05.
- "MBTA Unveils Bike Cages At Alewife Station" (Press release). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. September 18, 2008.
- "Bikes on the T". MBTA. 19 January 2010. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
- Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (3 May 1985). Red Line Northwest Extension. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
- Arts on the Line:Alewife Station Archived 2011-07-21 at the Wayback Machine. Cambridge Arts Council. 2002. Accessed May 30, 2010
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