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Construction on Assembly Square T stop to begin later this fall

Published: Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Updated: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 23:11

assembly square

Virginia Bledsoe / Tufts Daily

Assembly Square in Somerville will soon be home to a new Orange Line T stop.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) will begin construction later this fall on a new Orange Line T station in Somerville's Assembly Square.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation allotted $29,229,184 for the project to S&R Construction Co., Inc. of Lowell Mass., the company in charge of building the new station.

The new stop will be located between the Wellington and Sullivan Square stations and is projected to be in operation for the fall of 2014.

Construction of the new Assembly Square station will impact approximately 200,000 Orange Line riders and an additional one million public transit riders whose travel intersects with the Orange Line each day, according to Wig Zamore, a founding member of Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership (STEP). STEP is a local group that advocates for improved transportation in Somerville.

The new station is predicted to draw about 5,000 passengers on average per weekday by 2030 and will reduce traffic in Assembly Square.

"The T stop allows the full development of Assembly Square with greatly reduced highway, arterial highway and local traffic trips," Zamore said.

Somerville Director of Communications Michael Meehan compared the Assembly Square project to the construction of the Davis Square station in 1984 in terms of sparking long−term development.

"Back in 1984, Davis Square wasn't that much to look at," Meehan said. "It's amazing the transformation that has gone on down in Davis Square since they put a T stop in there ... We expect the Assembly Square stop will have a similar effect up in that area of the city."

Zamore agreed that the new station would change the current composition of Assembly Square.

"The T stop allows a shift from just big box retail that has kind of dominated Assembly Square's land use for the last twenty years over to a much denser, urban, mixed− use type of environment which will include mixed−income housing," he said.

The Federal Realty Investment Trust is in the process of planning a nearby development called Assembly Row, which will include 1.75 million square feet of commercial space, as well as retail space and housing units.

Federal Realty and its partner Avalon Bay last week received the initial special permit for the first two residential blocks in the area, according to Meehan. The first commercial block in Assembly Square will next week be up for review by Somerville's Planning Board to receive its special permit, he added.

IKEA has also secured a permit to build next to the station.

The Assembly Square Station will follow the sustainable guidelines outlined by MassDOT's GreenDOT policy, Joseph Pesaturo, a spokesman for the MBTA, told the Daily in an email. The station's design will improve energy usage through the use of efficient heating and lighting equipment, he added. The new station will have a single, center island platform and a pedestrian bridge that will allow riders to gain access to the station across Foley Street, according to documents provided by Pesaturo. In order to build the center platform for the new station, however, present Orange Line tracks will need to be relocated.

Completed construction by Federal Realty is expected to generate $17 million per year in tax revenues, according to city estimates.

"We're talking a fairly massive transformation for that part of the city, and turning that into a neighborhood where it really hasn't been," Meehan said. "It's been an industrial zone. It's going to be a pretty vibrant place to be morning noon and night.

Upon completion, the Assembly Square Station will be the first MBTA station built since 1987.

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