Bus stop changes now slated for 2011

John Ruch

Upcoming changes to bus stops on the Route 39 corridor—including widened sidewalks, new bus shelters and some stop eliminations—are now slated for spring of 2011 instead of this summer, the Gazette has learned.

Requests for proposals on the construction work “are expected to go out this fall,” MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesaturo said in an e-mail in response to Gazette questions this week. The Gazette had sought updates from the MBTA and the state Department of Transportation for several weeks.

The changes will affect the entire route from Jamaica Plain’s Forest Hills T Station to the Back Bay T Station, including S. Huntington Avenue and Centre and South streets. While intended to improve service on the heavily used Route 39, the changes would affect all bus routes using the stops. The MBTA intends to use federal stimulus funds to pay for the project.

The changes were formulated in part with the input of a “working group” of JP residents. But the process, which began in 2008, was controversial for some deliberately secret meetings and internal disputes about what the group agreed to by “consensus.”

The working group was disbanded following a community meeting in February, even though the planning was not finished on the Back Bay end. It remains unclear what the status of planning is. MBTA project manager Erik Scheier previously told the Gazette that construction can go forward even if the planning is not done.

At the February meeting, Scheier said that the changes might take place this summer. There have been no public announcements from the MBTA about the project since then.

Diesel/electric hybrid buses recently were added to the Route 39 fleet. They are the same size as the older buses and will not affect the bus stop changes.

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