Trolley poles to be removed on Centre/South

John Ruch

The old, rusty poles that once held electric streetcar wires above Centre and South streets are finally targeted for removal, according to the Boston Transportation Department (BTD).

The city and the MBTA have discussed “removing those poles, and there was informal agreement that the MBTA will proceed in that direction,” said Vineet Gupta, the BTD’s director of policy and planning, at a Nov. 23 meeting of the Centre/South Streetscape and Transportation Action Plan advisory committee.

That agreement was reached in a conversation between BTD Commissioner Thomas Tinlin and MBTA Acting General Manager William Mitchell Jr., Gupta said.

The BTD will send a formal request letter to “ensure” the pole removal happens, Gupta said, adding that removal is “definitely [in] the cards.”

He later told the Gazette that there is no schedule for removing the poles, but that it is clearly a “priority.”

The so-called catenary poles have been unused and rusting since 1985, when the MBTA halted the Arborway line trolley service through Jamaica Plain.

Even if trolley service returned to the streets—which is still technically possible due to a lawsuit that is under appeal—the poles could not be reused.

For years, residents and elected officials have called for removal of the poles. The old trolley tracks running down the street, another source of community complaints, were paved over last year, but the poles remain.

Carlos Icaza, president of the Jamaica Plain Business and Professional Association and a member of the Action Plan committee, called for keeping two sets of the poles in place at either end of the district. The poles could be used to hang promotional banners and holiday decorations, he noted. It appears that idea may have some momentum.

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