(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2012)
“I think this has tremendous potential,” said Menino. “There are a lot of hidden gems in Boston’s neighborhoods and this Indigo Line will open them up for opportunity.”
The initiative will bring together city agencies and the community to take an in-depth look at the 9.2 mile long line and how through strategic planning they can spur economic development and better serve the over 160,000 people that live along the corridor.
In 2011 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development award the city’s Department of Neighborhood Development a $20 million Choice Neighborhood grant and $1.8 million Community Challenge grant. Together the grants will work to support growth along the corridor through investments in community oriented programs, affordable housing and transit oriented development.
The MBTA also invested $130 million in the line that stretches from South Station to Hyde Park to construct four new stations in Mattapan, Dorchester and Roxbury/South Boston.
Along with improvements on the line, The BRA during the initiative will also work with the community to look at ways to encourage growth along the corridor and around the line’s stops and review what the community thinks will help encourage ridership and job growth.
“It’s about reducing unemployment and bringing in new jobs and new investment for those who live along the line,” said Menino. “It’s about creating a Fairmount Corridor that works for all our people.”
Infrastructure improvements were a major focus for some of those in attendance.
“I think we need to make an investment in basic infrastructure,” said Districts 4 City Councilor Charles Yancey. “We should also be encouraging more community development around the stops and I think the city can play a major role in that.”
To accomplish all the city’s plans for the corridor, the initiative will have a two-tier planning structure.
The first part will be a comprehensive corridor-wide community planning effort. The goal, according to the BRA’s project page, “is to envision a new identity for the corridor and develop a comprehensive plan for corridor-wide economic development and physical improvement.”
The second tier of the initiative will look at certain crossroads and station locations along the line and search for ways to stimulate the area to encourage growth and job creation.
“There’s huge potential to bring more people into the district and make it more accessible for the broader Boston community,” said Max MacCarthy, executive director of Uphams Corner Main Street.
MacCarthy mentioned that not only could the line bring opportunities for residents to reach new jobs across the city, but the line will also bring more business to Uphams Corner.
“Infrastructure improvements and beautification could really help this district and the more frequent the line runs, the better,” said MacCarthy.
With the new energy surrounding the line many were excited to get work started and look at ways to stimulate growth along the line, where according to the BRA, a third of the city's vacant properties sit within a half-mile of.
Currently the Fairmount line has the lowest ridership of any of the MBTA’s commuter lines, with about 1,650 customers daily and a one-way ride end-to-end on the train costs $4.75.
Once the four new stops are completed, the Fairmount Line will have 10 stops not including South Station.
For more information on the initiative click here.
(Image courtesy Boston Redevelopment Authority)