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MBTA Rider Oversight Committee plans renovations

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority employees discussed future projects and issues with the Rider Oversight Committee at a meeting Monday. PHOTO BY KENSHIN OKUBO/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Rider Oversight Committee met on Monday to review plans regarding renovations to current T stations, particularly the station at Government Center.

The MBTA ROC is comprised of riders, advocates and MBTA employees who meet to address issues and give recommendations to the MBTA. More than 30 members hold monthly public meetings, during which various attendees speak, reports are made and recommendations are approved.

The construction managers of the MBTA Design and Construction Team presented their plans for changes in the Government Center T station, which will bring the station in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Boston Center for Independent Living Agreement.

“Renovation of the Government Center station, designated as the last key station in the plan, is vital to the MBTA fulfilling its commitment to provide accessibility for all,” according to the MBTA website.

Renovations include adjustments to Blue and Green Line platforms, the addition of elevators from the surface to the Green Line level and the construction of a new main entrance for the station. Plans for new paths to the station are also in effect.

Other proposed additions to the station include new escalators, new fare collection systems and upgraded back-up electrical supply.

A study by Value Engineering, conducted in 2011, suggested Government Center be closed for 24 months while improvements were made to the station, according to the MBTA website.

Officials at the meeting proposed extending hours at the Bowdoin station to ease problems created while Government Center is under construction.

During construction, trains would be able to pass through Government Center, although passengers would be unable to exit trains in the work zone.

Officials at the meeting also proposed incentives for workers if they shortened the construction process, the website stated.

“It’s well-taken that they’re going to be closing the station,” said Barry Steinberg, 71, a clerk of the Association for Public Transportation from Quincy. “It would be awkward to try to keep the station running. It’s not only in terms of time, it’s in terms of expense. It’s like trying to do a heart transplant while the patient is alive.”

The team discussed ways for the public to see the progress of the development. Officials are considering a transparent barrier that would allow the public to safely observe the construction.

Members of the public had varying opinions on the proposed enhancements to Government Center.

Steinberg said it is important for the public to make comments about the direction of the MBTA.

“A lot of the time I come to these things not knowing what’s going to go on, but I don’t want them to get away with anything,” he said.

Karen Wepsic, 74, from Jamaica Plain, said the Government Center improvements were odd considering the needed repairs to other lines.

“My heart is into making sure all neighborhoods are treated the same,” Wepsic said. “In other words, don’t give beautiful rail services to one neighborhood, and buses to another neighborhood.”

Marilin McNab, a retiree from Boston, said she hopes the MBTA will upgrade facilities for disabled riders.

“I have been actively involved with advocating for those with disabilities to have full access to the T system, which is reliable and affordable,” McNab said.

The construction is slated for completion in the second quarter of 2016.

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