TransLink announces partnership with PCI Developments to study the benefits of providing subsidized transit at new King George Hub development. Also, the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) Bryn Mawr Red Line Station wins People’s Choice Award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Chicago; the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) announces that closure of the Green Line D Branch will begin Sept. 24 for infrastructure upgrades; NJ Transit unveils art project at New Brunswick Station; and the City of Lexington in North Carolina prepares to kick off the construction phase of its passenger service project.
TransLink announced on Sept. 15 that it has partnered with PCI Developments to study the impacts of providing subsidized transit to residents and workers in King George Hub, a transit-oriented development located steps away from King George SkyTrain Station. TransLink says it will monitor the ridership of participants and assess, to what extent, subsidized transit changed their travel patterns.
“This pilot will not only provide subsidized transit for people living or working near SkyTrain, but it will help us better understand the benefits of incentivizing transit for future transit-oriented developments, as well,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Quinn. “This data will help us to potentially create future partnerships, build ridership, and expand sustainable transportation use.”
According to TransLink, transit subsidies are already an option for developers to meet building sustainability requirements in some municipalities, though there is a lack of data and studies in this area. Data collected during this pilot, TransLink says, could strengthen the case for transit subsidy requirements by municipalities as part of new transit-oriented developments.
The pilot, which is set to begin in October and last for three months, is being paid for by PCI Developments, and will:
- Provide $150 pre-loaded Compass Cards to 250 residents or workers in the King George Hub development.
- Survey participants before and after the three-month pilot period on their transit use.
- Track participant transit usage during the pilot with their permission.
- Determine whether pilot participants were more likely to use transit as a result.
“For more than 20 years–and taking cues from cities around the world–we have focused on unique opportunities for lively, sustainable and inclusive communities at rapid transit stations,” said President of PCI Developments Tim Grant. “King George Hub is a complete and comprehensive transit-oriented community that provides an opportunity for PCI and TransLink to partner on a pilot program that could inform and inspire collaborations with government, real estate developers, and TransLink to encourage transit usage at future communities.”
Once complete, TransLink says, data from the pilot will be shared with developers and municipalities to demonstrate the benefits of subsidizing transit in transit-oriented communities.
CTA, in partnership with engineer and architecture firm EXP, and contractor the Walsh-Fluor Design-Build Team, announced Sept. 16 that the temporary Bryn Mawr Station on the agency’s Red Line received the Lerch Bates People’s Choice Architectural Award in the “Civic” category from AIA Chicago.
The station, CTA says, was built to serve rail customers during construction of the agency’s $2.1 billion Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) Phase One Project, which includes rebuilding Bryn Mawr and three other Red Line stations into fully accessible, modern facilities.
CTA’s Quincy Loop Station was also among the finalists for the inaugural Lerch Bates People’s Choice Awards. The winner was selected by the public in open voting from the finalists’ designs chosen by Chicago Architecture Center’s Docents in a round one jury review from more than 125 projects submitted. The awards were announced this week at the AIA’s “Designight 2022” event. Both the Bryn Mawr and Quincy station projects were designed by EXP.
The temporary Red Line Station at Bryn Mawr, which opened in 2021 and is located at 5619 N Broadway, was built to provide convenient southbound access to the Red Line during the ongoing $2.1 billion RPM Phase One project. The station features a red exterior and passenger amenities, including Ventra machines and turnstiles. According to CTA, the RPM project will permanently rebuild the Bryn Mawr Station following the completion of adjacent track structure, and will be fully accessible to customers when it opens by 2025. While designed as a temporary facility to serve passengers during the first half of construction, CTA says, the agency and EXP “developed a design that was attractive to the community and pleasing to customers given the duration of the RPM project.”
Quincy Loop Station, located at 220 S. Wells, is a historic station originally built in 1897. In 2017-2018, the station underwent an $18.2 million rehabilitation that included the addition of two elevator, making the station fully accessible to customers. The project also rehabilitated various historic features of the station.
“I thank the distinguished AIA Chicago Chapter for this honor, and for recognizing our work to make our stations more aesthetically pleasing and accessible for all CTA customers,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “CTA stations are important centerpieces for communities, and we believe strongly in combining form and function.”
“EXP’s design team is honored to celebrate the awards alongside the CTA, as they represent the team’s commitment to design excellence and reshaping transit for Chicagoans,” said Thomas Hoepf, FAIA, EXP’s Vice Senior Vice President/Design Director. “I affectionately refer to the temporary station at Bryn Mawr as, ‘the little engine that could’ as it must punch above its weight because of its diminutive size among larger buildings along the busy corridor.”
“While the Bryn Mawr Station is only temporary, we are pleased with the functionality it has provided as well as the way it stands out in the local area,” said Dave Shier, RPM Project Executive for Walsh-Fluor.
According to CTA, this is the latest in notable architectural awards for the agency’s station design. In 2021, the CTA received the Greatest Impact Award from AIA Illinois for the “transformative renovation” of its historic Garfield Green Line Station. In prior years, CTA stations that have received AIA awards and recognition include 95th/Dan Ryan Red Line, Washington/Wabash Loop, Cermak-McCormick Place Green Line and Damen Blue Line.
The MBTA recently announced that beginning Saturday, Sept. 24, the Green Line D Branch will close for three nine-day, full-access closures, which will take place on a rolling basis through Sunday, Oct. 30, to replace track, station crossings and wayside equipment installations for the Green Line Train Protection System (GLTPS).
“These kinds of full-access diversions allow the T to accelerate investments and improvements across the system,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “With three full-access diversions already successfully completed on the Green Line this summer, I am confident the Capital Transformation team will complete the D Branch promptly and on schedule, delivering an increased level of safety and reliability to our riders through track replacement work and the installation of GLTPS infrastructure. I want to thank our Green Line riders for their patience while we accomplish this critical work on a faster timeline.”
According to the MBTA, the Green Line Transformation team has already completed three Green Line diversions this summer on the B, C and E Branches, and the D Branch diversion is the final diversion in this project. The D Branch improvements require some prep work, MBTA says, which will begin Monday, Sept. 19, and end Friday, Sept. 23. Prep work will not interfere with regularly scheduled service.
To cause less disruption to Green Line riders, this 27-day, full-access closure will be broken into three nine-day periods:
- Saturday, Sept. 24 – Sunday, Oct. 2
- Saturday, Oct. 8 – Sunday, Oct. 16
- Saturday, Oct. 22 – Sunday, Oct. 30
During this closure, the MBTA says it will replace more than 6,000 feet of track, upgrade more than six station crossings, and install wayside equipment for GLTPS. Most of the full-depth track replacement, the agency says, will take place between Eliot and Riverside stations. During the full-access closures, the parking lots at Waban and Eliot stations will be closed to the public due to track material and vehicle storage.
Alternative service will be available for all D Branch riders throughout the closures. Free, accessible shuttle buses will stop at stations between Riverside and Kenmore. Shuttle buses will not stop at Beaconsfield station due to narrow roads in the area. Riders can use Reservoir station, or Dean Road on the C Branch to access the Green Line.
“The Capital Transformation team continues to work diligently to deliver the best service possible for our riders,” said MBTA Chief of Capital Transformation Angel Peña. “Although this is the last scheduled surge for the Green Line this year, our team is always looking for ways to best serve our riders and deliver the safest and most reliable commute possible. Thank you to all our Green Line riders this summer for your patience and understanding as we made these much-needed improvements across the line.”
During the 16-day closure of the E Branch, which took place from August 6 to August 21, and, according to the MBTA, was “completed earlier than previously scheduled,” crews replaced more than 2,750 feet of track, two pieces of special track work, and installed wayside GLTPS equipment across the branch. During the 12-day closure of the C Branch from July 11 to July 22, crews replaced 1,500 feet of track from St. Mary’s to Kenmore stations and installed wayside GLTPS across the branch. During the 12-day closure of the B Branch from June 20 to July 1, crews replaced 3,200 feet of track, four units of special track work, one vehicular intersection, one pedestrian crossing, and installed wayside GLTPS equipment.
The MBTA’s Capital Transformation team, the agency says, “follows a holistic approach to transforming the Green, Orange, and Red Lines that has a clear focus on safety.” The program is aligned by six Levels of Transformation: Improving Safety & Bringing Infrastructure into a State of Good Repair, Enhancing Accessibility, Replacing Legacy Fleets, Increasing Passenger Capacity, Modernizing Rider Experience and Expanding Service.
NJ Transit and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts announced on Sept. 16 that the latest installment of The TRANSITional Art Project, a “temporary public art partnership between the agencies that selects artists for visual exhibition,” titled “Take a Breath” has officially launched at New Brunswick Station and will be on view until late November. This year, the Art Institute of Middlesex County also collaborated with NJ Transit to help promote and highlight local talent.
The exhibition, NJ Transit says, will include 2D illustrative art in the tunnel and bus shelters located on Somerset Street, photography in the waiting room, and fiber art displayed on the exterior columns.
Selected artists receive stipends from The TRANSITional Art Project to help offset the costs of developing and installing their projects.
The goals of this program, NJ Transit says, are to “connect customers and the New Brunswick community with new and exciting experiences in their daily lives and to provide New Jersey artists both exhibition opportunities and a supportive experience creating public art in transit spaces.” NJ Transit and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts intend to continue providing new art exhibitions to other stations throughout the state.
Artists selected for this TRANSITional Art Project installation include Kate Eggleston, Peiche Waite, RH Doaz and Hailey Potter. Images and details about the exhibit can be found here.
“NJ Transit is pleased to showcase these local artists at one of our centrally-located rail stations,” said New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Commissioner and NJ Transit Board Chair Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. “This is a unique way of bringing art to life for our customers.”
“The New Brunswick rail station is a key transit hub for our customers on the Northeast Corridor (NEC), so it’s only appropriate that it be decorated with original art created by artists from the same area,” said NJ Transit President and CEO Kevin Corbett. “The New Jersey State Council on the Arts has been a great partner over the years in helping us bring this cultural experience to our customers at stations across our system.”
City of Lexington
After almost 20 years since the City of Lexington in North Carolina first began discussions about providing passenger rail service—and being denied no less than six federal transportation grants—the city is preparing to kick off the construction phase of the passenger rails service project now that, along with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), it has completed all prerequisite tasks to allow funds from the $24.9 million grant it received in 2020 through the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant program to be released, The Dispatch reported on Sept. 18.
Because of prerequisite tasks for grant obligation, The Dispatch reported, it has taken the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) almost two years to release the funds, which are now slated to be released on Sept. 30.
According to The Dispatch report, the construction phase of the project includes two new boarding platforms, renovation of the historic freight depot as an interim passenger station, a vehicle tunnel under the railroad at Fifth Avenue, which will connect Talbert Boulevard, improving the tracks between the two areas, and closing the at-grade rail crossing at Seventh Avenue.
Due to the current economy and increases in construction labor and materials, The Dispatch reports that the project will cost approximately 40% more to build than projected by the 2019 budget estimates. The total estimated cost of the project is currently $57 million.
In addition to the FRA grant, NCDOT is contributing $10.95 million to the project for construction and will provide an additional $450,000 for design work and will hire a third-party agency to assist in the financial management and oversight of the grant, according to The Dispatch report.
According to The Dispatch report, the City of Lexington is responsible for $5 million in matching funds, as required in the grant application, which will be paid over the timespan of the anticipated five-year project.
According to city representatives, “officials will seek additional sources for the $16 million increase in costs, including the North Carolina Railroad; the U.S. Economic Development Association; discretionary funds from North Carolina Legislators; local corporate citizens; and the private sector, foundations, as well as other grant sources.” The Dispatch reports. The city, according to the report, is responsible for covering the balance of all other funds not obtained from outside sources.
Although the funds will be available to begin the project, The Dispatch reports that it will be approximately two years before actual construction begins, “as the project includes right-of-way purchases, demolition, final design and plan review.”
According to The Dispatch report, city officials stated that “there is an opportunity to begin renovation of the station site prior to construction of the track and grade separation work as funding becomes available prior to 2025.”
The City of Lexington, The Dispatch reports, will have an invitation-only event on Sept. 28 where officials from the FRA will officially present the $24.9 million grant award.