AASHTO Journal

Boston-Area Project Aims to Boost Capacity at Heavily Used Multimodal Station

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, state Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack plus state and local transit officials and elected lawmakers joined Aug. 22 in a Boston groundbreaking ceremony for a project to improve Ruggles Station, a major hub connecting commuter rail, subway trains and area bus lines.

The $38.5 million project to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's station will include elevators, a rebuilt busway and a new 800-foot commuter rail platform to increase capacity for nearly all inbound commuter rail trains to stop at the station.

"This investment will improve service for riders and access to neighborhoods and employers in Boston for all communities around this T stop," said Baker. "This new platform at Ruggles will reduce congestion and allow more trains to stop at this major and busy local hub for commuters throughout the region. We are grateful to our federal, local and community partners for their support in delivering more reliable service for the riders."

dollarpump.jpgThe project cost is covered by a 2014 grant of $20 million under the federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery or TIGER program, plus Federal Transit Administration funding of $6.8 million and state funding of $11.7 million from the MBTA revenue bond fund. With the design phase completed in January 2017, construction is scheduled for 2017 through 2019.

Officials said Ruggles Station is limited in its commuter rail operations today because the existing platforms are served by only two of the three tracks. And physical limitations of the station, along with daily congestion along the corridor with both MBTA and intercity Amtrak trains, make it difficult to offer a complete schedule of trains there.

Today, they said, more than 30 percent of inbound trains bypass Ruggles, forcing inbound passengers to transfer from the commuter rail to the Orange Line subway at Back Bay to travel back to the station. Yet despite that limitation, Ruggles is still the fourth-busiest destination station for commuter rail service on the MBTA's system.

While officials first authorized a contract in March 2012 that included the layout and design of a new commuter rail platform to service Track 2, it was amended by the MBTA's Fiscal and Management Control Board last December to include disability-access improvements, the reconstructed lower busway and new elevators.

"Ruggles Station is one of our busiest stations because it is a major hub for MBTA bus routes and a stop for commuter rail and for the Orange Line," said Pollack.

"Infrastructure improvements being made at Ruggles will make access to the system much easier for people with disabilities, for customers connecting from bus routes, for the local college and high school student population and for the public in general. These improvements are long overdue and will vastly improve the customer experience and make for more efficient boarding and disembarking for commuter rail and subway riders."

Above: Baker speaks at project's groundbreaking ceremony. Photo / Gov. Baker's Twitter feed

Questions regarding this article may be directed to editor@aashtojournal.org.

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