The information below was provided by the Chair of the South Action Train Station Advisory Committee (SATSAC), David Martin:
What’s going on with the train station?
- The MBTA is restoring a second track between Acton and Ayer, making the entire Fitchburg line double-track, except at the Waltham station. The double tracking requires new stations in South Acton and Littleton.
What kind of station is being put into South Acton?
- The future station is a two-platform design. The platforms will be raised to be level with the floors of the train cars. There will be entrances on both the Maple Street and parking lot sides, and a bridge with stairs and elevators to cross between them. A building on each side will provide a small amount of shelter. In addition, canopies will cover a portion of the platform.
How did this design get chosen?
- About 2 years ago, the MBTA offered a center island station design. This design is favorable for a turnback station but offered no Maple Street access, and utilized long enclosed ramps on either side of the bridge crossing the tracks. The feedback that SATSAC received in various public forums was that the ramps were overwhelmingly large, and the long ramps had security issues and access problems for those with disabilities.
- To address these concerns, the MBTA agreed to switch to a two-platform design to allow Maple Street access and to add elevators to address the access issues.
- When the new design came in, it was very good. However, Acton’s Historic District Commission (AHDC) felt that certain elements of the design could be refined to reflect the neighboring South Acton Historic District. An agreement was reached to have members of the AHDC and SATSAC work with the MBTA and its contractors to address aesthetic and usability concerns. The final design is now 90% complete. Work continues on the site plan and landscaping.
Will the construction disrupt train operations?
- A couple of train bridges to the east of Acton are being replaced. During the weekends that they are installed, bus service will replace train service. There may be a similar disruption, when the elevator footbridge is installed at the South Acton station. MBTA will provide customers notice of any changes in service.
- When construction causes portions of the parking lots to be inaccessible at the South Acton station, the contractor will provide offsite parking and a shuttle.
Will the changes to the line and the station affect the schedule?
- Improvements to the tracks and faster boarding will reduce the travel time to Boston from Acton by about 5 minutes. The travel time improvement from stations west of Acton is more significant, allowing for 1 hour travel time on the express from Fitchburg to Porter Square. In addition, new signaling and track improvements will increase reliability by allowing trains to travel in either direction on either track without reducing speed. A disabled train won’t disrupt the entire schedule.
- When the Acton and Littleton stations are complete, the trains that now turn back at South Acton will likely turn back at Littleton instead.
What about the station parking deck that was being planned?
- A parking deck is not part of the train station project. SATSAC was originally formed to look into adding a parking deck using funds from a clean-air settlement being offered by the MBTA. Before Acton could reach consensus on the parking deck, the funds were no longer available.
What about the station parking situation then?
- The station construction will cause some rearrangement of the station parking lots, but we expect to have the same number of spaces at the new station. There are, however, significant increases in parking at several stations to the west. Littleton now has expanded parking, Ayer is adding a new lot, and a new station with parking is being added at Wachusett. Along with the increased number of trains going to Littleton, this should offer some relief on the Acton parking situation.
- There is often parking available at the West Concord station.
- The Town of Acton’s MinuteVan provides Rail Shuttle services from two lots: one is behind the West Acton Fire Station and the other is at Mt. Calvary Church. If needed, train riders can alternatively use MinuteVan Dial-a-Ride to get to the station. www.minutevan.net, 978-844-6809.
- MART's Fitchburg to Boston shuttle stops in our area (Littleton) and is now open to the general public: http://www.mrta.us/bwshuttle.html . 978-345-7711/800-922-5636 option 3.
- Yankee Line's commuter bus from Colonial Liquors on Route 2A in Acton, through Concord, to Copley Square: http://www.yankeeline.us/actonconcordcommuters.html . 617-268-8890/800-942-8890.
- SATSAC will continue to look for improvements to the parking situation.
Is the station going to connect with the Assabet River Rail Trail?
- Yes. Regulations require that the rail trail terminate at a public transportation facility. Accommodations have been made for the rail trail to end at the Maple Street entrance to the new South Acton station. There is space in the new design to have twice as many bicycle racks and lockers as we have at the station now. The new station design eliminates the need for the proposed rail trail bridge to be added adjacent to Rt. 27.
Are there other impacts?
- The second track will be restored at the following crossings in Acton: Martin Street, Central Street (both crossings), Massachusetts Avenue, and Arlington Street. All of those crossings, plus Parker Street, will include pedestrian sidewalk gates on at least one side. An island will be installed at Massachusetts Avenue for increased safety at the West Acton Crossing.
- SATSAC and the town’s engineering department are looking into replacing the lights in the parking lot with efficient lights that won’t leak light into the neighborhood around the station.
What is the current schedule for all of this?
- 04-07-2011: Major South Acton Station design decisions made
- 09-24-2011: 90% South Acton Station design submitted
- End 2011: Littleton Station construction starts
- Early 2012: 100% South Acton Station design submission
- Spring 2012: South Acton Station bid opening
- Spring/Fall 2012: South Acton Station construction phase 1: prep work
- Fall 2012: South Acton Station construction phase 2: build inbound platform and overpass
- Fall 2013: South Acton Station construction phase 3: open new platform
- Spring 2013: Littleton Station construction complete
- Summer 2013: South Acton Station construction phase 4: build outbound platform
- Fall 2013: South Acton Station construction phase 5: reconstruct Railroad St. lot
- End 2013: South Acton Station construction phase 6: site work
- Spring 2014: South Acton Station construction complete
- End 2014: Fitchburg line improvements complete