MBTA: Government Center Station to close for 2 years starting in Sept. 2013 for $90 million overhaul
The Government Center subway station is scheduled to shut down for two years starting around late summer or early fall of 2013 so that construction can be done on an estimated $90 million project to renovate and rebuild part of the busy station at City Hall Plaza, MBTA officials said.
Officials from the T and the state transportation department will hold a public meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 12 to discuss the project and the station’s planned temporary closure due to construction, officials said. It is scheduled to run from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in conference rooms B, C, and D on the second floor at100 Cambridge St.
The project will overhaul the station, including by: building a new station entrance, or “headhouse” structure; renovating Green Line and Blue Line platforms; overhauling the electrical system; installing new elevators, escalators, LED signs, improved lighting and an expanded fare collection area; and reconstructing some of the surrounding parts of Cambridge Street and City Hall Plaza, officials said.
The work will modernize the station and bring it up to current code requirements, including complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The T expects federal funding will cover about 80 percent of the projected $90 million cost, according to Joe Pesaturo, a spokesman for the public transit agency.
The station closure is likely to start in September of 2013, Pesaturo said. The station is scheduled to reopen after about 24 months, but before the project is entirely finished. The project is scheduled for completion in the second quarter of 2016.
During the two years the station is closed, trains will still be able to bypass, but not stop at, the station, Pesaturo said. A special bus route will stop at Government Center, Haymarket and State stations. And Bowdoin Station, normally closed on weekends and after 6:30 p.m. on weekdays, will be kept open, on a trial-basis, on weekends and later on weekdays.
Last year, the Globe reported that the MBTA was leaning toward a full closure of the busy Government Center station, but the news this week marks the first time the agency is saying the closure is a certainty.
The MBTA considered an alternative plan that would have kept the station open during construction, according to a copy of a slideshow that T officials will present at the Dec. 12 meeting.
But, that option would have increased the project’s cost and timeframe for completion because most work would have to be done at night, the slideshow says.
The T has previously projected that closing the station for two years would cut the project’s cost by $16 million and its construction period by 15 months or more.
The alternative would have also put passenger safety at increased risk and would have involved sporadic service disruptions, including a minimum of 32 weekend diversions and frequent changes to boarding areas and accessible routes.
The recommendation to close the station during construction was presented to the T’s board of directors in April 2011.
“The board generally concurred with that recommendation, and design has progressed based on the station being closed as recommended,” the T’s website says.
The Government Center Station project also proposes removing 21 trees at City Hall Plaza – a topic that the city has scheduled a separate public hearing for on Tuesday, Dec. 18, at 10 a.m. in the Dorothy Curran Conference Room on the third floor of 1010 Massachusetts Ave.
The Boston Redevelopment Authority, a city agency that oversees most sizeable construction projects in Boston, approved conceptual plans for the project in 2009, according to the slideshow.
Government Center Station, originally called Scollay Square Station, was built in 1897. The last significant modernization was done there 50 years ago, when the station was renamed as the new City Hall was built around it.
When the Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted in 1990, the MBTA developed a plan to improve accessibility at key stations, the last of which would be Government Center Station, the T’s website says.
In 2006, a settlement was reached in a federal lawsuit filed by 11 individuals and the Boston Center for Independent Living over inadequate accessibility for people with disabilities to MBTA trains and buses. As part of the settlement, the T agreed to build additional elevators at the heavily traveled stations of Harvard, State, Porter, Downtown Crossing, and Park Street.
To see a copy of the slideshow, which is includes more project renderings and is scheduled to be presented at the Dec. 12 meeting, click here.