The $51 million project to replace the decaying Orient Heights MBTA station on Bennington Street is in full swing and, according to the MBTA, major construction should last until spring of 2014.
Staging for the construction project began in the spring and by midsummer most of the old, dilapidated station was torn down. Only the platforms and catwalk remain of the old station while crews begin to frame out the new station’s design.
The 60-year-old Orient Heights station is one of the last stations to be rebuilt under the T’s Blue Line modernization project. The station, built in 1952, has been rapidly falling apart over the last decade. Platforms at the station are held together by 2×4’s as old rebar protrudes from cracked and crumbling concrete. The bathrooms have been out of order for years and were replaced with outhouses and paint and plaster are chipped and peeling from the walls and ceilings.
“The station’s a mess,” said Representative Carlo Basile. “Over the years we’ve seen state-of-the-art and modern station constructed at Maverick, Airport, Wood Island and Suffolk Downs—Orient Heights was in desperate need of this overhaul.”
The project will make the station fully accessible to all passengers as well as make large-scale improvements to modernize the station. The work will include installation of a new overhead pedestrian bridge, 4 elevators and 2 escalators, new mechanical and power systems, a renovated Train Operations Building and improvements to the bus access areas.
The Orient Heights Station Project has been designed to be consistent with MassDOT’s “GreenDOT” policy.
However, the reconstruction of the new station, which involves razing the old station and building an entirely new one, will not be without its inconveniences.
Beginning in a few weeks the station will be closed for approximately six and a half months. Trains will be running through the station from Wood Island to Suffolk Downs but buses will take Orient Heights passengers to Wood Island where they will board trains to Boston.
During the six and a half months of closure, the Blue Line from Airport to Wonderland will be completely closed for a total of 16 weekends.
On those weekends the MBTA will be busing passengers from Airport to other station heading outbound to Wonderland.
The MBTA plans to bring the construction company, Barletta Heavy Division, to a future Orient Heights Neighborhood Council meeting to go over any questions or concerns the community may have over the construction timeline and other issues that may arise during the project.
AECOM USA, Inc. completed the design on the station last year and is still tweaking some landscaping ideas around the station. One particular parcel of land on the corner of Bennington and Saratoga Streets that is shared by the MBTA and the City of Boston is one area of concern.
Long used as a cut-through by commuters the MBTA wants to either fence off the parcel and plant trees and shrubs or keep it open but discourage cutting through by T passengers by planting a lot of vegetation.
Many in the neighborhood have agreed to the latter during a series of community meetings leading up to the start of construction.