The T’s Arborway Yard plan: a recap

June 6, 2014
By

FOREST HILLS—The planned, but long-stalled, new MBTA bus facility at the Arborway Yard, the property at Washington Street and the Arborway, has been in the news a lot recently. Most attention has focused on a Jamaica Plain resident’s alternative plan to build the still-unfunded facility on American Legion Highway instead. But it has been three-and-a-half years since JP residents saw a presentation of the MBTA’s official plan.

For the many new residents who have moved in since then, and for longtime residents needing a refresher, the following is a review of the MBTA’s Arborway Yard plan.

Aside from one recent change, the plan was created in a 15-year community process and ultimately approved by the Community Planning Committee for the Arborway Yard, a JP residents group.

The MBTA would replace the current 18-acre temporary bus yard on the site with a state-of-the-art facility, along with surrendering almost 8 acres of surrounding space for community use, likely including mixed-use buildings and green space.

The plans for the 10.1-acre facility include a 118-space “bus barn” building, a 10-bay maintenance and fueling facility, an underground 275-space parking garage for MBTA employees and a bus wash station.

Originally, the MBTA planned to build the facility around its administrative building at 500 Arborway. But now that building is scheduled for demolition, a major change from the last plan presented to the community.

MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesaturo has previously told the Gazette that the design for the facility will be adapted around the footprint of the administrative building. But it is unclear exactly what would fill that space.

Almost 8 acres along Washington Street, on the north side of the 18.3-acre property, would be given to the City to develop further. That space will be subject to a community process to decide what will eventually be built there, based on outlines from the Forest Hills Improvement Initiative (FHII). Suggestions for parks, low-income housing and commercial space have previously been put forth.

The remaining space on the property would become a perimeter park that would reconnect Franklin Park with the Emerald Necklace. The park would be owned by the City, but landscaped and maintained by the MBTA.

The entire facility would be surrounded by a noise-reducing wall that would rise no more than 8 feet from the adjacent park, keeping shadows low and unobtrusive. The buildings’ roofs would be white, preventing the buildings from becoming “heat islands.”

According to the MBTA, the bus yard is expected to cost around $220 million, with $30 million of that already spent. But Pesaturo has previously told the Gazette that the total cost might rise as high as $250 million, including management, inspection, administrative support, engineering services and contingency plans.

The facility was originally budgeted at $94 million, and budgeted at almost $200 million in 2010.

Pesaturo also previously said that the proposed American Legion Highway site would cost approximately $231 million to design, permit and construct.

The Arborway Yard project was a part of the MBTA’s Capital Investment Program (CIP) in the past, though that has not been the case for several years. The CIP is a document that outlines and authorizes the MBTA’s use of funds over the next five years. The MBTA cannot operate or build any projects not included in the CIP.