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Getting around the Government Center shutdown, and far-too-real playtime scenarios

Posted by Nichole Davis  February 1, 2013 12:04 PM

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I was sitting in the operations center here at my workplace the other morning with a coworker, listening to scanners and a few tunes by Chicago. Suddenly, said coworker turned to me and asked, "What's up with that whole Government Center thing, anyway?"

"What Government Center thing? Oh, wait, the station closure?"
"...Hmm. Well, it's still closing ... sometime this year as far as I know. I should find out."

A little bit of research and one email to MBTA Spokesman Joe Pesaturo later, I present to you some of the latest developments on said closure.

First and foremost, if you're not familiar with what I'm talking about, the MBTA announced back in November that they would be shutting down both the Blue and Green Line Government Center platforms for a complete remodel. The shutdown is scheduled to take approximately two years. If crews had kept the station open, the T says that the project would have cost $20 million more than the slated $90 million -- and it would add several months on to the currently-projected construction project.

Plus, if the station had stayed open, the T says that they'd have to constantly change where you boarded and exited trains, fare collection would prove difficult, crews would only really be able to work at night, and there would be a significant amount of weekend diversions (which we're already dealing with on the Orange Line -- see MBTA Matters below). As a very perceptive woman once said, "Ain't nobody got time for that." (YouTube it for the reference.) Anyway, it sounds like a giant pain for everyone involved.

What exactly are they doing to the station? Well, essentially, it's getting a (sorely needed) complete overhaul. Some highlights include:

  • A brand new entryway (they call it a "headhouse") which will include more fare collection gates, two elevators (finally making the station handicapped-accessible), restrooms, and a much wider lobby

  • Wider track platforms on the Green Line level (going from a rather small three feet wide to ten feet, somewhat reminiscent of North Station)

  • New staircases to replace the crumbling ones to and from the Blue Line

  • New escalators

  • Revamped vendor spaces on both the Green and Blue Line platforms

  • A new emergency exit from the Blue Line platform

Plus, it'll just look shiny and modern. Lots of stainless steel and glass. (I'd love to see what kind of window washing bill that's going to run up.)

Pesaturo tells me that, as of this week, the MBTA is currently looking for bids for the project. They'll be doing that through the rest of the winter and into the spring. He says that the current estimated shutdown date is sometime in September. If you want to learn more about the project, and see what the plans look like, click here.

Now, the big thing to worry about plan ahead for is the obvious: how are you going to get to where you have to go? For people like myself, who work quite close to City Hall Plaza, a longer commute is inevitable. Some interesting numbers that I found: over half of the 11,000 riders that arrive in the Government Center stop on any given day are there just to transfer to some other line (namely, either from the Blue to the Green or vice versa). 40 percent of riders use Government Center as their final destination via the Green Line, and just about five percent on the Blue Line have Government Center as their last stop. (That Blue Line destination statistic is interesting to me, considering how many people have to get off at Government Center on weekends because the Bowdoin station is closed.)

Transferring to and from the Blue Line will be interesting, as it now has to be done (at least by rail) solely from the Orange Line. You could, in theory, if you have a LinkPass, get off the Green Line at Haymarket or Park and walk to Bowdoin, State or Aquarium to get on the Blue Line - but if you're not feeling that idea, you'll have to take the Green Line to Haymarket or North Station, get on the Orange Line, and transfer at State. You could also, if coming from the west on the Green Line, get off at Park and walk over to Downtown Crossing via the Winter Street underpass, where you would then take the Orange Line to State to get to the Blue Line. Phew.

Green Line trains will be running through the station, so that's a plus -- but they're considering shuttle buses between Haymarket/Park Street and Government Center. (In all honesty, except for accessibility issues, it would probably be faster to walk between Government Center and either of those two stops.) As for the Blue Line, it's looking like extending hours at Bowdoin is a strong possibility. Currently, that station is only open on weekdays from 5:15 AM to 6:30 PM, but it's a stone's throw from Government Center and would be an integral way for those heading to the back side of Beacon Hill, the courthouses, and City Hall to continue their commute on a mostly normal schedule.

What are your thoughts on the shutdown? Do you think it's necessary? Would you prefer to see the station stay open? Are you going to ditch commuting via T while the station is closed? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Speaking of the Green Line, this came my way today via UniversalHub.

Apparently the T now has an Official Toy Maker, and their first T-related toy was released last spring: a die-cast Green Line trolley. (The nerd in me really wants one. How did I miss this? Where are my Matchbox cars when I need them?)

Dig Boston has come up with some compromising situations that (sadly?) Green Line riders will find all too real. Check them out - let me know if they missed any.

(Keep in mind - some language may not be safe for work environments, but will more than likely be exactly what any Green Line rider is thinking in said situations.)
MBTA Matters

Not-so-good news for Orange Line riders -- the MBTA has released more dates for busing between Oak Grove and Sullivan Square. It looks like we'll be seeing the busing in place for at least the next three weekends through February (2-3, 9-10, 16-17). Shuttle buses will start running the route from the start of service Saturday to the end of service Sunday. Why the consistent busing? Crews are taking that time to perform construction work on the new Assembly Square stop. No ETA as to just when this busing will finally come to a close, but I'd say that, at least for the near future, you should expect busing on that stretch of the Orange Line each weekend (except for holidays).

You'll find slowdowns here...

495 in both directions at Route 125, Haverhill (Exit 51): bridge inspection closes lanes on Tuesday from 7:00 PM to 3:00 AM.

95 northbound at Route 110, Amesbury (Exit 58): road work closes lanes on Wednesday from 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM.

95 northbound prior to Central Street, Byfield (Exit 55): watch for lane closures for bridge inspection on Tuesday from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

95 southbound after Central Street, Byfield (Exit 55): watch for lane closures for bridge inspection on Thursday from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

Route 24 northbound at Airport Road, Fall River (Exit 8): bridge inspection closes lanes on Thursday and Friday. Watch for lane closures southbound on Wednesday.

Route 3 northbound between Route 4 (Exit 32) and Route 40, Chelmsford (Exit 33): construction work closes lanes each Tuesday and Wednesday from 8:00 PM to 5:30 AM.

Route 128 in both directions between Route 135, Dedham (Exit 17) and Highland Avenue, Needham (Exit 19): continuous lane closures are in effect until further notice as part of the 128 widening project. Expect extra slowdowns, especially during mid-days, for work. Lane split still in effect southbound between Great Plain Avenue and Route 135 - will be until at least the end of 2013.

North Harvard Street over the Larz Anderson Bridge: Continual lane closures are in effect in both directions for bridge reconstruction work. No left turn onto Memorial Drive from JFK Street.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Nichole Davis is a Boston-based traffic reporter and news anchor. She’s been seen and heard on television and radio airwaves across New England since 2003, providing commuters with all the More »

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