SALEM — Construction is scheduled to begin in three months on the new Salem commuter rail station, a $37 million project that has been on the drawing board for years.
When work crews start mobilizing in June and July, the station will remain open and operating, but life will change dramatically for the 2,200 daily commuters who make the Salem station one of the busiest in the MBTA system.
“We are going basically to take this whole site,” Ryan Jennette of Consigli Construction of Milford, the general contractor, told the 70 people who attended a public meeting last night at Carlton School.
The 340-space T parking lot will shut down, and the smaller city section of the lot will be used by buses and for passengers with disabilities.
Motorists will have to find alternative parking, which will mean using city garages and lots or heading to other T stations.
The city hopes to have a temporary, 112-space lot available at the former Universal Steel property on Bridge Street, but that project is moving more slowly than hoped.
Vacant buildings have been razed, but an environmental cleanup is “taking a little bit longer than expected,” Mayor Kim Driscoll said last night.
The mayor said the Universal Steel cleanup should be done in mid-May, which leaves a “tight timeline” for getting it paved and ready by the time construction begins across the street.
The commuter rail station will have two pedestrian entry points throughout construction, one from Bridge Street and another off Washington Street, where the current staircase eventually will be replaced by a temporary structure.
Pedestrian access is important since almost half of the commuters who use the station arrive by foot, according to officials.
MBTA officials were asked if new pedestrian pathways will be built as part of the station project. Entries have been suggested from North Street (Route 114) via HMA Car Care Systems, from Leslie’s Retreat Park and across the tracks to the Jefferson at Salem Station housing development.