Wedgemere (MBTA station)
Wedgemere station in June 2013
|Location||25 Mystic Valley Parkway
Haverhill Line (limited service)
|Platforms||2 side platforms|
|Parking||103 spaces (town permit required)|
|Rebuilt||1957; February 1, 2013|
|Passengers (2013)||512 (weekday inbound average)|
Wedgemere is a passenger rail station on the MBTA Commuter Rail Lowell Line located in the southeast portion of Winchester, Massachusetts. Wedgemere is served by most Lowell Line trains except for several expresses, as well as a small number of Haverhill Line trains which run via the Wildcat Branch. The station consists of two platforms serving the line's two tracks on an elevated grade. The 1957-built station building, now a coffee shop, is adjacent to the inbound platform. After several years of work, the station was made fully handicapped accessible in February 2013.
Boston & Lowell
The Boston and Lowell Railroad opened to Lowell on June 24, 1835. Many of the present stations on the line opened soon after; however, a station did not open at Bacon Street in southern Winchester until the early 1850s. The station, located near a bridge over the Aberjona River, was variously known as Mystic, Bacons Bridge, and Symmes Bridge (the latter after a nearby landowner). After 1887, the Boston & Lowell was leased to its former rival, the Boston and Maine Railroad, as its New Hampshire Main Line.
Boston & Maine
By the end of the 19th century, the station was known by its modern name, Wedgemere, after the surrounding neighborhood, and had a small station building on the east (outbound) side of the tracks. In the early 1900s, the B&M built a larger station building with an extended canopy on the west side of the tracks, which served for the next half-century. In 1955, the B&M began a project to raise the tracks of the New Hampshire Main and the southern end of the Woburn Branch for a mile through Winchester, eliminating a troublesome grade crossing downtown. Boxy two-story brick stations opened at Wedgemere and Winchester Center in 1957. The ticket office was closed in 1960, and the station building hosted a coffee shop from 2008 until 2014.
MBTA era and accessibility
From the introduction of MBTA funding in 1965 until the mid-2000s, Wedgemere station remained essentially static. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 required transit agencies to make certain stations handicapped accessible. A number of high-ridership stations on the MBTA Commuter Rail system were upgraded, but due to its relatively low ridership - less than 600 riders per day as of 2009 - Wedgemere was not chosen as a key station for upgrades. Wedgemere had older low-level platforms, and access from the street was via stairs only. Beginning in 2008, a local family lobbied the MBTA to make the station accessible; in July 2009, the Federal Transit Administration granted the MBTA permission to build mini-high platforms. (Full-length high level platforms would not have been possible because the Lowell Line is a designated freight corridor; full-length platforms cause operational difficulties with freight trains. Wedgemere does not have room for a dedicated freight passing track like Anderson RTC.) In February 2010, the MBTA announced that $2 million in federal stimulus funds had been allotted to the project, part of a $6.3 million grant that also funded repairs to the Red Line tunnels between Harvard and Alewife. The work was the intended to be finished by the end of 2010.
After delays due to concerns over nearby wetlands and the appearance of the ramps from street level, the Town of Winchester granted approval in March 2011. In April 2011, the MBTA began soliciting bids for the primary construction work on the station, worth $1.525 million. The scope of work included construction of the mini-high platforms and ramps from street level, as well as adding lighting, rehabilitating the low level platforms, and creating accessible parking spaces. After bids came in higher than expected, a $2.503 million contract was awarded in July 2011 with notice to proceed in August.
Construction was to be completed in mid-September 2011 ahead of the October deadline for stimulus funds, but a problem with town permitting in early September delayed the completion of the project. Construction resumed in November. The mini-high platforms, ramps, and new parking spaces opened on February 1, 2013, making the station fully handicapped accessible. Finishing work on platform reconstruction, lighting, and landscaping lasted the spring of 2013, culminating in a reopening ceremony in June.
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