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Winchester Center station scheduled for partial September opening

An artist rendering of what the new Winchester Center MBTA station will look like when it officially opens in December. COURTESY PHOTO/MBTA

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If you’ve noticed an uptick in the amount of work being done on the Winchester Center station, it’s because the MBTA has put the project on a priority list in order to have construction completely finished by December — and the station partially open by September.

“I want to tell the public that we are very committed to opening the station in September,” said Maribel Kelly, deputy chief of capital delivery. “Our project is a priority and unless something catastrophic happens, my team is constantly [on] the project, following the schedule. Hopefully, we are not causing that much of an impact in your lives. We are looking forward to opening the station.”

A look at the recent construction work done by the MBTA this spring. COURTESY PHOTO/MBTA

The station, which had not had a major update since the 1950s, initially closed down in 2021 due to its state of disrepair and inability to meet current accessibility standards. Construction began in spring 2022 to the tune of $50 million.

The goal of the project, according to the MBTA’s project page, was to include the following improvements:

• Reconstructing access ramps and adding new elevators for better accessibility.

• Upgrading canopies, signs, railings, and lighting for safety and security.

• Adding benches, bike racks, a public address system, and other amenities for comfort and convenience.

• Updating walkways, sidewalks, and parking lot areas.

Although initially slated for a July opening, Kelly and several MBTA officials gave an update on the project’s current status during an online meeting June 25.

She and Senior Project Manager Nathan Rae explained the project had run into some setbacks earlier this year that pushed the projected original opening back to the early fall.

Rae said from March to May, the project lost the ability to run trains on only one track in order to keep up with construction. Crews were forced into “foul time,” which required both tracks to be live and for workers to clear the tracks each and every time a train comes through.

A look at the construction schedule for spring and fall 2024. COURTESY PHOTO/MBTA

Rae added the project is back on schedule, with crews working on the following this spring:

• Installation of the stairs at the Laraway Road near the corner of Waterfield Road.

• Waterfield Lot side of the headhouse, stairs and elevators there, and the canopies for the platforms above.

• Installation of the ramp pieces of the Aberjona end of the station.

But there’s still a lot of work left to do, including continued work on steel, electrical, concrete and plumbing work:

• Focusing on the south end of the station.

• Steel work, elevator and staircase work on the north end of the station.

Residents, Rae said, can expect more work throughout the weekends, as well as night. The MBTA intends to limit the night work and plans to deliver advisories when night and weekend work is expected.

September opening

So what will a partial opening look like? Rae estimated the following:

• A partial re-opening of the south side of the station, inbound and outbound sides, with one elevator for each side.

• Return of parking to the Waterfield and Aberjona lots.

• Completion of work on Waterfield Road.

By December, both sides of the station will be open and all parking, as well as the former construction area, will be back to normal.

He added landscaping and a punch list of items is scheduled for 2025.

The new Winchester Center station is scheduled to partially open in September (blue) and then fully open in December (red). COURTESY PHOTO/MBTA

Attendee reaction

Although MBTA officials initially scheduled a two-hour meeting to allow for a question and answer period, attendees had few questions.

Christopher Silvia, a Woburn resident whose primary access to the commuter rail is in Winchester, asked about the 134 bus route, which had been suspended. He also asked whether or not Winchester’s bike storage lockers would be ready for the September opening.

Rae said the bike storage units on the inbound side would definitely be ready. He also added there had been a bus stop on Laraway Road for the 134 and he expected the route and stop would be re-instated once the project was over.

Kelly added she would double check on the bus route and contact Silvia.

Deborah Johnson, of the Disability Access Commission, asked if the ramps would be ready in September for disabled users and about emergency access for anyone stuck in an elevator or on a ramp.

Mark Thompson, of the MBTA, said emergency phones will definitely be ready for September and can be tied into the Winchester Police Department.

Rae added the access ramp will not be ready until full opening in December.

Eamon Frongillo-Lofstrom questioned why trains blow their horns going through the community.

Kelly said by law, trains are required to do that. She added Winchester Center is also an active construction zone so the horn also alerts workers there’s a train coming.

Jay Houllahan wanted to know if there would be a community bulletin board on the overpass at the rotary downtown.

Rae, however, said that was not within the scope of the project, but the MBTA can work on something like that should the town ask for it.

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