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Stars & Stops

'T' says it hasn't the funds to expand Alewife garage

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Tom Long
April 13, 2008

A couple of discerning readers had follow-up questions on issues addressed in previous Starts & Stops columns.

"Re: 'Desperately seeking parking' [March 30] and the complaint from William Elliott of Acton about his problems finding a garage, the T's Joe Pesaturo is misstating the facts if he says the reason for no increase in the size of the Alewife garage is, as you quote him, 'the T is not in a financial position to acquire land for parking,' " Sue Bass wrote in an e-mail.

"In fact, the Alewife garage, though it now is only five levels, was designed to accommodate seven levels of parking. The elevator shaft, stairs, etc., go up that far - in fact, the existing elevators have blank buttons that could be used for levels six and seven.

"The T should have increased the size of the garage 15 years ago when level five started being used a lot. The argument I've heard from T planners is that the adjoining communities would protest - but I doubt that's true.

"Belmont and Arlington would use the garage a lot, if there were room; Cambridge and Somerville suffer from people driving through because they can't get into the garage. The intersection of routes 2 and 16 is jammed, all right, but getting people off the roads and onto the T would reduce the crunch, not worsen it."

Pesaturo, the MBTA's spokesman, responded: "While the garage was designed to accommodate two additional levels, no structural analysis or code review has been done to verify if the existing structure can still meet that objective.

"The existing top deck has about 650 spaces, so the potential expansion would be for approximately 1,300 spaces.

"At current construction industry pricing, the estimated project cost would be in the range of $30 [million] to $35 million. Burdened with a current debt load of more than $5 billion, the T has little financial capacity for expansion projects."

Construction work lingers at MGH
Bill Bogle wonders what's up at the Charles Street/MGH Station. "Several months ago you published a story about the new Red Line T station near MGH. After all this time, one lane of the roadway below is still closed and it looks like workers are still plugging leaks or making repairs to the glass walls above.

"Can you tell me what is going on and how this project can continue to linger?"

Pesaturo responded to this one, too. "The area referenced by your reader was being used as a staging area," he said.

"The contractor is in the process of demobilizing. The field trailer used by the MBTA was removed last week. The trailers for the subcontractors are scheduled to be removed next week. Tristate, the traffic control subcontractor, is expected to begin cutting in the signals to coordinate with the circle, and staff expect the roadway to be open to traffic by the end of the month."

The work on the glass is follow-up activity to complete the contract requirements.

Riders encouraged to report incidents
Judith Yogman had an eerie encounter in Copley Station on March 15. "I saw a man donning a vibrant green, skin-tight hood over his entire head and face. He also had on matching green gloves," she wrote in an e-mail.

"Having been drilled repeatedly to say something if I see something suspicious, I immediately pointed out the man to the attendant in the booth and asked her to call this in. She refused to do so. Instead, she said that I could fill out a written report, or stay there and wait for someone to whom I could make an oral report. Not having the time to do either, I left, and so did the green-hooded man."

MBTA Green Line chief Deborah Gies was not amused. "The employee's behavior described by our customer is unacceptable. We've identified the customer service agent who was on duty at the time, and an investigation is underway. I can assure you that appropriate action will be taken. The MBTA strongly encourages customers to continue to report any suspicious behavior or unusual activity."

Starts & Stops appears every other Sunday in Globe Northwest. Transportation comments and questions may be sent to starts@globe.com.

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