Blue Hill Avenue station
Blue Hill Avenue station under construction in August 2018
|Location||Blue Hill Avenue|
Dorchester, Boston, Massachusetts
|Platforms||1 island platform|
|Connections||28, 29, 30, 31|
|Closed||March 12, 1944|
|Passengers (2019)||290 daily (projected)|
Blue Hill Avenue is a future regional rail station in Boston, Massachusetts. It serves the MBTA Commuter Rail's Fairmount Line, and is located in the Mattapan neighborhood of Dorchester. The station will consist of a center island platform between the line's two tracks, with handicapped-accessible ramps to Blue Hill Avenue and Cummins Highway. Originally intended to open along with Newmarket, Four Corners/Geneva, and Talbot Avenue, it has been significantly delayed due to local controversy. Construction began in 2017, and the station is expected to open in February 2019.
Service on the Fairmount Line (as the Dorchester Branch of the Norfolk County Railroad and later the New York and New England Railroad and New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad) began in 1855 and lasted until 1944. A station called Mattapan was located at Blue Hill Avenue. A station building was located on the inbound side, with a shelter on the outbound side. (This station was separate from the Dorchester and Milton Branch Railroad's Mattapan station, which still stands in Mattapan Square next to the trolley station that replaced it.)
Another station, "Rugby", was located at what is now Greenfield Road. No trace of either former station remains.
Temporary shuttle service resumed on the Fairmount Line in 1979 during Southwest Corridor construction, with stops at Uphams Corner, Morton Street, and Fairmount. The MBTA planned to drop the shuttle after service resumed on the Southwest Corridor in 1987, but the service was locally popular and the Fairmount Line became a permanent part of the system.
A plan called the "Indigo Line" was then advanced by community activists, who proposed a route that would add stations and more frequent service, to approach the standards of a conventional rapid transit line. The Indigo Line plan was not adopted, but elements of it were included when the Commonwealth of Massachusetts agreed in 2005 to make improvements on the Fairmount Line a part of its legally binding commitment to mitigate increased air pollution from the Big Dig. Among the selected improvements in the Fairmount Line Improvements project were four new commuter rail stations on the line, including one at Blue Hill Avenue. The stations were originally to be completed by the end of 2011.
Three of the stations - Newmarket, Four Corners/Geneva, and Talbot Avenue - began construction in 2011 and opened in 2012 and 2013. However, Blue Hill Avenue has been the focus of major community opposition over the station site and design, which has resulted in significant delays. Originally, the station was to be located between Blue Hill Avenue and Cummins Highway, with two side platforms like the other stations on the line. However, property owners in a neighborhood association objected to the projected construction activity and operational noise, forcing a total redesign of the station.
The MBTA analyzed several alternative sites for the station. Sites east of Blue Hill Avenue, west of Cummins Highway, and west of River Street would have required property taking, while a location at River Street was on a curve too tight to allow a high-level platform without significant platform gaps. In May 2011, the MBTA decided to keep the station site between Blue Hills Avenue and Cummins Highway, but to change the station design. The new design with a single island platform will keep construction further from abutting homes and lower the cost of the station. However, the change did not satisfy all residents, and the debate continued after announcement of the decision.
Final design of the station, including analyzing 26 nearby homes for noise abatement, was expected to be completed in the middle of 2012. However, local elected officials demanded an independent design review of the project, further delaying the project to at least 2015. The MBTA had planned to advertise the $10 million construction contract in December 2012, but did not do so. In July 2013, the MBTA announced that construction would begin within several months, but again this was a false start. A public meeting held in April 2014 showed mixed local opinions about the stations, with some nearby residents feeling that the stop was imposed on the neighborhood by the MBTA without sufficient public input. At that meeting, the MBTA presented a plan under which construction would begin in May 2015 for a December 2016 opening. A later meeting in September 2014 adjusted the schedule, with construction beginning in September 2015 for a June 2017 opening.
In July 2015, the MBTA began soliciting proposals for artists to design four panels on station signs. One-half percent of the construction cost, approximately $70,000, is budgeted to pay the artists. By February 2016, final design was expected to be completed in the first half of 2016. However, no funding was yet available for the $25.2 million construction cost, placing the station's future in doubt. Plans for 100% design were submitted in March 2016. In June 2016, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation board approved a $14.8 billion 5-year Capital Investment Plan. Under the plan, Blue Hill Ave station had guaranteed funding for the $26 million construction cost. Over $3 million was allotted in FY2017, with the remaining $22 million to between FY2018 and FY2021.
Bidding for the $19.3 million main construction contract opened in December 2016. On January 24, 2017, the MBTA Fiscal Management and Control Board approved a $16.97 million contract. Construction was to begin in Spring 2017 for a Spring 2019 opening.
Construction of the station began on June 3, 2017. To accommodate construction work at the station site, all weekend Fairmount Line trains in both directions were cut back to Morton Street, with bus shuttles between Morton Street, Fairmount, and Readville, and late-night outbound Fairmount Line service on weekdays was completely replaced with busses. As of January 2019[update], the station is expected to open in February 2019.
Four bus routes which terminate at Mattapan station, five blocks to the south, will serve Blue Hill Avenue station. Three of these run on Blue Hill Avenue:
- 28: Mattapan Station - Ruggles Station via Dudley Station
- 29: Mattapan Station - Jackson Square Station via Seaver Street & Columbus Avenue
- 31: Mattapan Station - Forest Hills Station via Morton Street
Additionally, the station will be served by one route on Cummins Highway:
- 30: Mattapan Station - Forest Hills Station via Cummins Highway & Roslindale Square
- Humphrey, Thomas J.; Clark, Norton D. (1986). Boston's Commuter Rail: Second Section. Boston Street Railway Association. p. 12. ISBN 9780938315025.
- "Blue Hill Ave Station Design Meeting" (PDF). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. September 15, 2014. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- Leo S. (December 26, 2009). "Railroad Stations in Dorchester". Dorchester Atheneum. Retrieved June 18, 2012.
- "State Implementation Plan – Transit Commitments Monthly Status Report" (PDF). Massachusetts Department of Transportation. September 20, 2012. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
- Leskovic, Nate (February 5, 2012). "Neighbors balk at siting for Blue Hill Station". Dorchester Reporter. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
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- "Everything Was Quiet & Business-like at Mattapan Transpo Meeting, And Then ..." Here and Sphere. April 11, 2014. Retrieved April 13, 2014.
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- "BLUE HILL AVENUE STATION CALL FOR ARTISTS" (PDF) (Press release). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. July 10, 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 12, 2015. Retrieved July 11, 2015.
- Nelson, Caleb (February 24, 2016). "Commuter rail stop in Mattapan no sure thing as T balks on funding". Dorchester Reporter. Retrieved February 24, 2016.
- "State Implementation Plan – Transit Commitments: 2016 Status Report" (PDF). Massachusetts Department of Transportation. June 30, 2016. p. 4.
- Smith, Jennifer (July 6, 2016). "State budget plan locks in trolley, Fairmount spending". Dorchester Reporter. Retrieved July 13, 2016.
- "NOTICE TO BIDDERS" (PDF). MBTA Contract No. H74CN09, FAIRMOUNT CORRIDOR IMPROVEMENTS PROJECT, BLUE HILL AVENUE COMMUTER RAIL STATION. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. December 9, 2016.
- "FMCB approves Blue Hill Avenue Station on the Fairmount Line" (Press release). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. January 24, 2017.
- Garrett, Brianne (October 13, 2016). "Mattapan residents get T station update; officials get positive nods, hear concerns". Dorchester Reporter. Retrieved October 14, 2016.
- "Current Service Alerts, Advisories, Delays, and Outages". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. August 5, 2017. Archived from the original on August 5, 2017.
- "FAIRMOUNT LINE effective June 3, 2017" (PDF). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. June 3, 2017. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 5, 2017. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
- Mohl, Bruce (January 7, 2019). "T notes: $10 weekend fare didn't need to go away". Commonwealth Magazine.
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