The Symphony stop on the MBTA’s “E” Line is slated to close for a year and a half beginning in the summer of 2023 to make accessibility improvements to the 80-year-old station, including the addition of new elevators at all four corners of the intersection of Huntington and Massachusetts avenues, according to T officials at a virtual meeting held Thursday. Oct. 21.
Besides the installation of the new elevators, the project also entails adding raised platforms, accessible bathrooms, a new emergency egress, and improved wayfinding and lighting to make the station safer and more accessible as part of the T’s Green Line Transformation (GLT) project, which will make modifications to 20 Green Line stations over the next five years.
Desiree Patrice, GLT senior director, said the new elevators would take commuters from the street to the platform level, while the platforms in the station would be raised 8 inches and improvements would be made to the stairs, egress, and “areas of refuge.” Accessible bathrooms would also be built in the station and new accessible ramps would be constructed to the lower plaza as well.
Glass headhouses for the elevators would also be built at all four corners of the intersection of Huntington and Massachusetts avenues, added Patrice, surrounded by bollards, which would be removable to allow for the potential installation of bike lanes, as well as wire-cut pavers running alongside Horticultural Hall.
A signal box would also be moved from Massachusetts Avenue to Huntington Avenue, she said, in an effort to reduce congestion on sidewalks. New bike racks would be installed outside the station as well.
Angel Pena, chief of the GLT project, said besides the accelerated construction timeline for the project that was ultimately selected, the T also considered a traditional scenario, which would’ve required shutting the station down early on weekdays and entirely on weekends for three years to complete the job by 2026.
For the duration of the approximately 18-month-long construction timeline for the accelerated scenario, trains will pass through Symphony, even though the station will remain closed. The T will also implement shuttle service to the supplement the 39 bus line at this time.
“There’s a crucial need for this station to be accessible, so I’m glad the team is working on this,” said City Councilor Kenzie Bok, who requested that information on the shuttle service be posted in the Symphony Plaza Towers in multiple languages, including Russian, Chinese, and Spanish. “Some of those folks will be very much impacted,” she said.
“As thrilled as we are about the accelerated timeline, then we need to be ready for the city to close down the intersection right [at the site],” said Councilor Bok, who asked the T to coordinate with the city on this as soon as possible.
Councilor Bok also said the project would provide an opportunity to “bump out” the curb to allow for the installation of bike lanes.
Matt Moran , transit director for the Boston Transportation Department, said the city is looking into creating a northbound-southbound bike connection at Massachusetts Avenue and had already been in contact with the T regarding this matter.
Moran also said building bike lanes as part of the Symphony project, as opposed to installing them on their own, would greatly reduce not only the cost, but also the disruption it would cause.
Nancy Farrell of the GLT team said they would work with the city on the proposed bike lanes, and that they would also disseminate information on the project to everyone affected via flyers and other forms of communication.
Judd Galloway, a project consultant, said 11 trees would be removed to accommodate for their project, while nine new trees would be planted in their place.
The next step for the project is utility work at the station, which is expected to get underway in 2022, and to take around a year to complete, said Pena.
Another public meeting will also be scheduled after the construction contactor has been selected, he added.