T: Despite hole, bus yard will not be redesigned

April 25, 2014
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The MBTA will not revise the proposed design for a bus maintenance facility at 500 Arborway despite its recent decision to demolish an office building currently on that location. The design was planned around that building with the assumption it would remain standing.

MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesaturo told the Gazette that the MBTA consulted with the Community Planning Committee for the Arborway Yard (CPCAY), a local advisory group, and that the plan will remain unaltered at their recommendation.

“CPCAY said they would prefer to leave design as is because it took quite a lot of time to reach a consensus on the current design. The MBTA agrees with CPCAY,” he told the Gazette.

CPCAY chair Merlin Southwick did not reply to a Gazette email asking for confirmation of Pesaturo’s statement.

The Arborway Yard at the Arborway and Washington Street currently houses a years-old “temporary” bus maintenance facility. The long-delayed plan for a permanent bus facility includes roughly 8 acres of private mixed-use development and parkland. The final plan remains unfunded, but the MBTA recently announced it will conduct “site preparation” work this year, including the office building demolition.

In many years of negotiations, community members frequently pushed the MBTA to improve the design by relocating the office building, and the MBTA refused. The long-haggled-over design was created with the building at its core, forcing bus paths to drive literal circles around it.

Then in 2010, the MBTA applied unsuccessfully for a construction grant with a plan that now included demolishing the building, but with no clear idea of what would replace its huge hole in the center of the design.

“It has taken a great deal of time, effort, and money to get the design to this point, and there is no reason to alter it now,” Pesaturo added. “Restarting the design process would only result in considerable costs and delays in moving the project forward when funding becomes available. The removal of the building fits nicely with the completed design because it will provide more space for maneuvering buses into and out of the new facility.”

CPCAY will hold a community meeting on May 14, at a location to be determined.

The aging office building at 500 Arborway. (Gazette Photo by Rebeca Oliveira)

The aging office building at 500 Arborway. (Gazette Photo by Rebeca Oliveira)