MBTA Presents Proposed Upgrades to Symphony Station

As part of the Green Line Transformation (GLT) initiative, Symphony Station is getting a makeover. At a virtual public meeting on March 3, the MBTA presented the plans for the upgrades and addressed comments and questions from residents.

Angel Pena, Chief of the GLT, said that to date, there are 75 percent definite plans “for upgrading and modernizing Symphony Station to make it fully accessible.” He added that “neighbors and community members around Symphony Station are eager to see this project come to fruition.”

Pena spoke about the four goals, or Levels of Transformation, of the GLT, beginning with Level 0, which began in 2019 and into 2020. Approximately 57,000 feet of track was replaced systemwide, and 45 intersections and crossings were upgraded on the B, C, and E branches of the Green Line. Additionally, “10 units of special track work on the D and C branches” were replaced, and flood protection doors and gates were installed at the Fenway portal on the D branch.

Pena said that Level 1 includes “accessibility improvements to stations over the next several years,” including new or upgraded platforms, compliant height width, and slope, among other things.

“We will achieve a goal of accessibility at one of the busiest Green Line stations,” Pena said of this project.

Tameika Thibodeaux, Senior Director of the GLT, said that the 100 percent design is expected to be ready between Feburary and summer of this year, and the estimated construction start is fall or winter of this year, with a reopening date of summer 2023.

Symphony Station will be closed to passengers for 13 months, but trains will continue to run through the station. There will also be weekend shutdowns, and “plans for alternate service to Symphony Station during the closure are under development,” Thibodeaux said.

She said that so far, the “project has been well-received in the community,” and that the GLT team is “committed to engagement throughout the final design phase.”

Jorge Briones, GLT Senior Project Manager for Symphony Station, explained the details regarding the station design for this project.

Right now, the station has four stairway entrances at street level going westbound, and two stairway entrances for northbound trains.

Passengers can only access the platform via stairs, which “reinforces how non-compliant the station is,” Briones said. He also said that there are “non-functioning restrooms” at the outbound platform, and no restrooms at all at the inbound platform, as well as “inadequate emergency lighting.”

As part of the upgrades, the station will now include accessible restrooms, and three-stop elevators that will “bring it into full compliance with code and accessibility requirements,” Briones said. There will be a total of four new elevators, and raised platforms inside the station, as well as new lighting and “improved wayfinding,” according to the project site.

A resident asked why the proposed new entrances included tall headhouses versus “flat roofs” like Copley Station has.

Briones said that based on feedback from those most impacted by the headhouses, this was the design that was settled on by all.

Marie Fukuda of the Fenway Civic Association said she was also “surprised at the look of the headhouses at Horticultural Hall,” as they “seem bulky.” She said she would like to see them “align better with the historic nature of the two buildings.”

Briones said that the MBTA held meetings with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Northeastern University, which now owns Horticultural Hall, as well as the Christian Science Monitor, all of which agreed upon this design after examining several options.

Briones also said that upgrades for accommodating those with audible impairments will be part of the project, including an upgraded communications system, as well as new speakers and signage on both platforms.

He also said that snow will not be a “barrier to accessibility” due to the new design and coordination with the City.

Thibodeaux said that the “MBTA will ensure that snow will be cleared,” and there is no chance of snow or ice blowing down the open stairs like there is now, because the new design features automatic doors and a vestibule.

Another question was raised about the possibility of being able to cross in between inbound and outbound platforms like Arlington Station allows.

Thibodeaux said that “unfortunately, the design that is in place is not going to have that inbound/outbound mezzanine that you have at Arlington Station.” She said the design that has been presented has been approved, and MBTA customer service agents will be on hand at the station to help direct anyone to the correct platform.

For more information on this project, visit mbta.com/projects/symphony-station-accessibility-improvements.

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