Advocate proposes new bus yard location

A member of the Community Planning Committee for the Arborway Yard (CPCAY) has proposed moving the entire bus yard facility a mile away from the Forest Hills area to the American Legion Highway. The state is now studying the feasibility of the move.

Allan Ihrer, a long-time member of the CPCAY, has proposed building the permanent bus yard along American Legion Highway between Walk Hill and Morton streets. The bus yard is slated to replace the temporary facility currently located on the north side of the Arborway at Forest Hills as soon as the MBTA funds the project.

“We have a completely different situation” in the Forest Hills area compared to 15 years ago, when a new bus facility was proposed, Ihrer said. Then, the area was mostly used for industrial purposes. Now, it is being developed mostly for residential and commercial uses. More of that kind of development should go on the Arborway Yard site, he said.

Ihrer told the Gazette that he has shown his idea to the state Department of Transportation (MassDOT), the City’s Department of Transportation (BTD), the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) and other City agencies. He has not received official feedback from any of them.

“This proposal is being examined through a feasibility study and the results have not yet been released,” said MassDOT spokesperson Kelly Smith.

According to Ihrer, the American Legion site was suggested when the project was first proposed in the late 1990s. The MBTA, then an independent agency from MassDOT, rejected it. The property is currently owned by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation and used as a composting site.

According to CPCAY head Merlin Southwick, Ihrer’s proposal is not part of CPCAY’s official agenda.

“That’s not something the CPCAY has come up with,” Southwick said. “Allan’s always looking for ways to improve the neighborhood.”

Originally budgeted at $94 million, the Arborway Yard facility is currently expected to cost upwards of $220 million. The facility is not expected to be built in the next five years.

The CPCAY has been fighting for a community-friendly facility on the site for almost 15 years, when the MBTA decided to close Bartlett Yard in Roxbury.

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