BOSTON (CBS) – Right now there is more than $5 billion worth of real estate under construction in Boston including brand new buildings in the Seaport district, Downtown Crossing, Boston Landing at the New Balance Headquarters, and now Fenway. Developer John Rosenthal wants to build right over the Mass Turnpike between the bridges at Beacon Street and Brookline Avenue. “This is by far one of the biggest projects in the city of Boston,” says an enthusiastic Rosenthal. If Rosenthal and the city can iron out an agreement on tax breaks the new “Fenway Center” will go up. It includes three apartment buildings, a new parking garage, and a 27-story high rise towering over the historic ball park.
Critical to the Fenway development, expanding the commuter rail stop at Yawkey Station. “Yawkey Station had to be built first before we build Fenway Center above it,” says Rosenthal. And that’s where development meets transportation. Not only in Boston but in the suburbs. Along 128 in Westwood, where Amtrak meets the Commuter Rail, another big project is coming down the tracks. “These amenities have to go to the transit, transit is not going to go to them anymore. It’s too expensive,” explains Westwood Selectman Phil Shapiro. So, just steps from the train, the new University Station is taking shape. Target, Wegmans, a large premium health club, restaurants, retail, and more than 600 residential units. The first stores should be open in spring of 2015.
Making sure more people can get around without a car is a priority for the MBTA. “It’s pretty crystal clear, if you can’t get from here to there, it’s a problem,” says MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott. Scott says top quality transportation begins with infrastructure and the MBTA is budgeting millions to replace old green, red, and orange line cars.
But that’s not all. “We just call them the mega projects,” explains Scott. Mega-projects that the MBTA says will get started soon. Like expanding South Station by another seven tracks, $254 million to connect the New Bedford area to the South Coast Commuter Rail, and by 2020 Medford and Somerville should finally get the Green Line service they’ve been promised for years. That will cost $1.3 billion.
“How effectively we wind up moving people and freight and goods is critical to economic development and overall quality of life,” says Scott. But can the cash-strapped agency really afford it all? “We can do it. We got to. We don’t have a choice.” An optimistic outlook hoping the sky, not a shrinking budget, is the limit.
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