MBTA won’t move Arborway Yard

January 17, 2014
By

FOREST HILLS—The MBTA has decided against pursuing a new location for a permanent bus yard in Jamaica Plain.

In November, JP resident Allan Ihrer, a member of the Community Planning Committee for the Arborway Yard (CPCAY), suggested to the MBTA that a long-planned new bus yard be created on American Legion Highway instead of the longtime temporary site at Washington Street and the Arborway in Forest Hills.

The MBTA chose to stick to its original plan for an Arborway bus yard, MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesaturo told the Gazette last week.

“The MBTA has invested a lot of time and money over the years on designing a new bus facility for the 500 Arborway site,” he said. “To go back to square one and start all over with a new site, new community, new engineering and site concerns will cause a major delay in the project and will increase the cost to construct this project.”

A new bus yard is slated to replace the temporary facility currently located along Washington Street as soon as the MBTA funds the project. Several acres of the site would be given to the City for redevelopment as housing and commercial space.

Ihrer proposed building the permanent bus yard along American Legion Highway between Walk Hill and Morton streets. The property is currently owned by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation and used as a composting site. His plan would free up the entire Forest Hills site for housing and commercial redevelopment.

Ihrer was informed of the MBTA’s decision by others. The MBTA has not yet gotten back to him.

“I completely expected them to come back and say this,” Ihrer said.

According to Pesaturo, a new facility on the American Legion Highway site would cost approximately $231 million to design, permit and construct, compared to $180 million for the already designed facility at the Arborway site. It also would delay the project by an additional four years. The MBTA would also need to purchase two adjoining lots, Pesaturo said.

According to Ihrer, the American Legion site was suggested when the project was first proposed in the late 1990s. The MBTA rejected it.

The Sonybrook Neighborhood Association (SNA) voted last month to support Ihrer’s proposition.

“The Stonybrook Neighborhood Association membership fully supports Allan Ihrer’s proposal of moving the Arborway bus yard project to the American Legion Highway site,” SNA co-chairs Dan Scanlan and Frederick Vetterlein told the Gazette in an email. “This large property [the Arborway yard] has great potential to upgrade and beautify the area, if utilized in a more appropriate way than the current plan…The bus yard no longer makes sense for this site.”

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.

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.