In the first indication of a concrete timeline for enacting plans to consolidate and redesign bus stops along the 39 bus route, MBTA spokesperson Lydia Rivera told the Gazette work will begin in early to mid-2010.
“We are wrapping up the public process later this month and then finishing the project engineering and city review process. The project construction will occur in early to mid-2010,” she said in an email this week.
Rivera’s e-mail came in response to Gazette questions about an announcement at a recent meeting that the work on the routes had been scheduled for this fall, but was being delayed until next year. Rivera said the MBTA had never intended to begin work this fall.
It is still unclear exactly what the changes will be. In addition to consolidating and moving some stops, they are planned to include adding shelters at some stops and constructing at least four curb extensions so the extended buses can stop at the curb without having to pull over to the side of the road.
An improvement plan for the entire bus route corridor between the Orange Line Stations at Forest Hills and Back Bay has been in the works for over a year.
A citizens advisory committee (CAC) made up entirely of Jamaica Plain residents has been meeting irregularly to offer input into the redesign. That group has mostly focused on the JP section of the corridor—S. Huntington Avenue, Centre Street and South Street ending at Forest Hills.
At the CAC’s April meeting, the group focused on the stretch between Forest Hills and Canary Square—the intersection of Centre Street and S. Huntington. It looked at putting sidewalk extensions at the Centre/Seaverns stop in front of Purple Cactus; a new St. John stop in front of Gentle Dental; the Beaufort stop in front of the Forbes senior housing building; and the Roseway stop.
At a July meeting of another group, the city-run Centre/South Street improvement CAC, MBTA head planner Erik Scheier laid out pretty much the same plan, except the extension at the Beaufort Street stop had been replaced by one at Perkins Street.
Coming out of the April meeting, the proposal was to reduce the current nine bus stops to seven, including, Roseway/Moraine; Robinwood/Beaufort; St. John/Pond; Seaverns/Burroughs; Centre/South (Monument Square); Child/Jamaica; and Spalding/St. Rose.
A South Street stop around the corner from the Forest Hills Station and a stop on the corner of South Street and Carolina Avenue, in front of the South Street Mall, were slated for removal.
At a September meeting of the Centre/South CAC, Ralph DeNisco from McMahon Associates, a transportation, engineering and planning consultant, said he understood that the improvement project was meant to begin this fall. He said it was being delayed until the spring because of “procurement issues.”
In her e-mail, Rivera said beginning work next year was always the goal. “Nothing is getting postponed,” she said.
Scheier did not return Gazette phone calls for this story.