TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY STEPHANIE POLLACK said on Monday that the MBTA is scrapping its design for a new Auburndale commuter rail station in response to concerns that the proposal might negatively affect the overall operation of the entire Framingham/Worcester Line.
The transportation advocacy group TransitMatters initially raised concerns about the proposed design in February, saying the MBTA’s approach could cause service disruptions for all users of the line. TransitMatters accused the T of rebuilding the station “in the worst possible way.”
The Auburndale station, located on the Framingham/Worcester Line adjacent to the Massachusetts Turnpike, currently features one low-level platform on the south side of the tracks. The existing platform requires passengers to climb steps to board a train, making the station inaccessible to people with disabilities.
The T proposed addressing the problem by demolishing the existing station while building a new handicapped-accessible station on the north side of the tracks. The T then proposed installing switching gear that would allow trains to swap tracks before reaching the next stop, West Newton, which has its station on the south side of the tracks.
Pollack met recently with state lawmakers representing Newton and informed them the T was going back to the drawing board on the Auburndale station design. She was vague, however, about what kind of plan will eventually emerge.“We talked about the very legitimate concerns that have been raised that the particular design could degrade the operation of the entire Worcester Line and everyone agreed that, as important as it is to bring better accessibility to the station in Auburndale, no one wants to see that happen at the expense of the overall operation of the Worcester Line,” Pollack said after a meeting of the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board. “We talked about taking a look at some options that would improve accessibility without degrading operation of the line. I committed to getting back to the elected officials in a month or two.”
Pollack downplayed the T’s decision to walk away from a design that was 100 percent complete. “One of the reasons we go public with 100 percent design is to get feedback and the feedback we got pointed out some very legitimate concerns that we now need to address,” she said.