BEVERLY — The MBTA board of directors has approved $25 million to build a parking garage in Beverly, clearing the way for construction to begin this fall.
The vote, which came at the board’s meeting on Wednesday at Somerville City Hall, was expected but is still a significant step for a project that has been under consideration for decades.
“It was unanimously voted in favor, and now we’re just weeks away from construction,” said Mayor Bill Scanlon, who attended the meeting along with City Planner Tina Cassidy. “It’s terrific.”
Scanlon said the garage is scheduled to be finished by December 2013.
The garage will be built along Rantoul Street next to the Depot Square condominiums, within a short walking distance of the train depot on Park Street. It will be three stories tall with parking for 515 vehicles and a covered walkway over Pleasant Street to the station.
Scanlon has been trying to get funding for an MBTA parking garage since his first term in office in 1995. Beverly is the second-busiest of the state’s 134 commuter rail stations but has little off-street parking.
“It puts more focus on Beverly as a center of activity,” Scanlon said. “I think it bodes well for our restaurants and shops.”
The $25 million approved by the MBTA covers only the construction costs. The total cost of the project is $34.1 million, including $4.2 million to buy the land, $3.5 million to design the garage, and $1.4 million in administration and other costs, according to the MBTA.
The MBTA and the state and federal government are paying most of the costs. The city is contributing $496,325.
The MBTA selected Suffolk Construction to serve as the construction manager on the project. Suffolk submitted the highest bid of the three finalists but was selected under what the MBTA calls a “best value” procurement methodology.