Latest Gilman Square, Lowell Street T Station Plans Unveiled

Latest plans for the Gilman Square and Lowell Street GLX stations were presented at a public meeting Wednesday night.

The latest plans for the proposed Gilman Square and Lowell Street Green Line stations, unveiled at a public meeting Wednesday, appeared to address some concerns residents aired earlier but left new questions unanswered for now.
Last June, at a pair of workshops, residents raised concerns with both stations. At Gilman Square, residents said they were concerned about station accessibility for all parts of the neighborhood. At Lowell Street, the largest concerns were based on the overall scale of the project in the highly residential area.


Both stations are expected to open in 2018 or 2019. Original plans had called for openings in 2012, but the Green Line Extension (GLX) has been twice delayed.

At last night’s meeting, held at Somerville High School, adjacent to the south the Gilman Square station location, residents said they were pleased to hear construction of that station will include a portion of what will later become the community path. Previous plans had not allowed for easy access from School Street, essentially requiring a walk around the block in order to access the station.

Now, the proposed community path segment, which will run from School Street to Medford Street, will provide access to the station from both streets. The station will also be accessible further north, near the intersection of Medford and Pearl streets.
“It’s such an improvement to build that path now and have that worked out,” said Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership member Wig Zamore.

The community path currently extends to Cedar Street from the Cambridge western border, where it extends from the Cambridge Linear Park. It’s slated to be extended to Central Street — a phase of the process sill being designed. Eventually, it will extend to the Charles River.

The segment to be included in the Gilman Station will be built ahead of the rest of the path and will provide easy access to the station for those coming from School Street and points further west.
“I’m very pleased about the path starting,” Lynn Weissman, co-founder of Friends of the Community Path, said, adding she had “no idea” that it would be included in the new station plans.

GLX officials also presented updated plans for Lowell Street. The station entrance will be built on the Lowell Street bridge, providing stairs and a ramp to the platform below. Some in attendance still thought the project’s size would overshadow the residential neighborhood, which had been neighbors’ chief concern at the station’s June workshop.

”Lowell Street,” Zamore said, “looks like it’s having an awful lot going on there.”

Architect Michael Epp said the plans were difficult to develop and the station “was probably one of the harder stations to design” because of the physical and spatial constraints of the neighborhood. He argued, though, that the station’s size fit the neighborhood as best it could.

View March 7 GLX Meeting in a larger map

Epp said the station would extend about 32 feet above Lowell Street, the same height as abutting residences, and that the bike cage would be three-quarters the size of a garage. Shrubbery and gardening would also be implemented in the design, said Josh Burgel, another project architect.

Karen Arpino-Shaffer, the deputy program manager for HDR Engineering and Gilbane Building Company and leader of the discussion, said the Lowell Street station wasn’t perfect but that it was the best the team could produce given its location off the bridge. “It’s what we have, not what we’d start with,” she said.

Neighbors also voiced concerns that Lowell Street’s pick-up and drop-off area, which would be put in the place of the street’s existing sidewalk, will force pedestrians to walk along the station’s front concourse. Burgel said the team had looked into extending the sidewalk while still allowing for the drop-off, but discovered that pushing the station back in order to do so would cause it to interfere with other properties, thereby making it infeasible. He said he hoped the design of the concourse, which will feature some gardening and shrubbery, would appeal to pedestrians and make the extra steps worthwhile.

Other questions, which pertained to changes in traffic patterns, lighting, sound barriers, bus access from Gilman Square, and the exact location of property lines, could not yet be addressed. Arpino-Shaffer reminded attendees that tonight’s unveiling represented the plans’ “30 percent design,” meaning not quite everything is in place.

The Gilman Square design is set to be modern but have a “masonry feel,” Epp said, to fit the aesthetic of the surrounding buildings. Epp said Lowell Street is meant to better fit a residential aesthetic, with its concourse and greenery meant to resemble a front yard.

Plans for the Ball Square and College Ave stations will be shared at a similar meeting on March 21.

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  1. [...] planning work is still underway for the Somerville Green Line Extension –a meeting about stops in Ball Square and College [...]

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