JPNC discusses Arborway Yard bus facility updates, committee updates

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) met virtually on June 28, where it heard a presentation from the MBTA regarding the Arborway Bus Yard project, as well as discussed committee updates.

MBTA ARBORWAY 

BUS YARD

Scott Hamwey and Alexandra Markiewicz of the MBTA presented an update on the Arborway Bus Yard project. 

Hamwey provided some background information, saying that the MBTA has a goal to electrify its entire bus fleet by 2040. Upon completion of this project, he said that 40 percent of local buses in the city will be electric, including all service in Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Roslindale, and Hyde Park. 

Markiewicz spoke about a partnership with the Boston Public Library (BPL) to provide both paper and electronic copies of project slides in multiple languages at several BPL branches to help ensure inclusion of all residents. 

She also talked about the new building, which is proposed to have two levels of bus operations as well as employee parking underground, and eight acres of space for community use. 

The site plan includes having buses access “primarily along the Arborway,” Markiewicz said, and to use Washington St. as a “secondary” or “emergency” exit. Employees will enter and exit via Forest Hills St.

She said that this project would not require any changes to the Arborway/Hyde Park Ave. signal, but the addition of a “bus lane and signal priority would enhance operations.”

On the inside of the building, there will be space for maintenance, charging, and storage for both 40 and 60-foot buses. Additionally, there will be administrative offices along Lotus St. and the Arborway, and the building’s height will be “comparable to surrounding new development,” according to a slide presented.

The team said that the design for the exterior is still in early stages, so there was not much to present on that front, but the recommended materials will be “durable, cost-effective, and energy efficient,” a slide read. 

The building will also incorporate “passive design strategies,” including energy efficient doors, windows, and more.

Additionally, “the Arborway facility has been identified as the preferred location for a new backup location” for the MBTA’s Operations Control Center, which helps to control security, dispatching, maintenance, and public information.

“This backup will provide resiliency to the transit system by ensuring reliable and safe service in the event of outages and/or emergencies,” according to a slide. 

The facility will also feature dark-sky friendly LED lighting to reduce light pollution but still provide safety on-site.

The final design phase is expected in 2023 and 2024, during which the MBTA will continue to hold public meetings. Construction is expected to begin in 2024, pending funding, and the project is expected to be complete at the end of 2027.

JPNC member Gert Thorn asked a number of questions relating to the number of buses that will be housed at the new facility, the number of employee parking spots that will be provided, as well as about a traffic study for the area.

Markiewicz said that around 200 buses will be housed at the facility, which is an increase, but not an increase of buses in the system. The increase is to make sure that additional service in the area is electrified.

For staff parking, the team is “still finalizing that number,” she said. “We are looking to minimize it as much as possible,” but they are looking at about 250 to 300 parking spaces.

Additionally, Markiewicz said that the “traffic study will be available as part of the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act traffic study change. Though there will be an “increase from what is on site today,” she said, “it’s not showing that it’s an increase that will be detrimental to the traffic operations in the area.”

Due to time constraints, not everyone’s questions were answered, but JPNC Chair Will Cohen urged attendees to email him their questions, which he will forward to the MBTA to be answered.

For more information about the Arborway Bus Yard project, visit mbta.com/arborwaybus, and email [email protected] to be on the email list.

PUBLIC SERVICE          COMMITTEE 

Public Service Committee chair Michael Reiskind reported that the committee met with Top Mix Bar & Kitchen at its most recent meeting, which was six months after the restaurant received its all-alcohol license, an entertainment license, and an outdoor 20 seat patio. 

“Everybody was pretty much happy” with the operation and hours, Reiskind said. “There were a lot of comments about parking in front on the street,” he said. “There was extensive talking about parking.”

Reiskind said that the Top Mix owner “promised to put some table signs and put a request to not park on Creighton St., but to use the free parking at the back.” He added that a sentence has been added to the Top Mix website saying the same thing. 

The committee also discussed adding more trash and recycling receptacles in business districts within the neighborhood. Reiskind said that the inventory of existing trash barrels and their conditions has been completed, and a list of new locations where they are needed has also been made.

Lastly, the committee discussed bicycles at Jamaica Pond along Perkins St. Reiskind said that bikes are “coming mainly from Perkins St. We’re going to be asking for more signage, better lanes, striping, and narrowing of the travel lanes for cats to make the bicycles safer.”

ZONING COMMITTEE

The Zoning Committee discussed three matters: one at 19 Spalding St. #4 to renovate the existing third floor kitchen, bedroom, dining room, and convert the attic to living space with one bedroom and one bathroom; one at 7 Boylston St. to replace the rear deck, front porch, and roof, as well as construct two new dormers and finish the attic space, and create two new off-street parking spaces; and one at 18 Malcolm Road to construct a second floor addition for an additional master bedroom and add living space in the basement for a new bathroom, rec room, and “man cave” area.

All were approved by the committee.

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