BY PAUL LEIGHTON
---- — The long-awaited garages at train stations in Salem and Beverly, two public projects that will cost a combined $78.6 million and provide a total of 1,215 parking spaces, are nearing completion.
The Beverly garage is scheduled to open Saturday, Aug. 3, while the Salem garage is set for a Friday, Oct. 10, debut, according to MBTA project manager George Doherty.
Doherty, who is overseeing both projects, said the garages will go a long way toward relieving parking problems in Salem and Beverly, which are the second- and third-busiest commuter rail stations outside of Boston. The Salem garage will have 715 parking spaces, while the Beverly garage will have 500.
In a tour of the two projects, Doherty pointed out that both garages will feature glass elevators, locked bike storage areas, electric car charging stations, designated parking for the Zipcar car-sharing service, and machines to melt snow on the roof.
Both garages will have multiple security cameras that can be viewed in the local police stations as well as by transit police. If somebody hits a call button in the garages in an emergency, police will be able to see them on camera.
Doherty said the garages will not have security people on duty.
Both garages will be managed by LAZ Parking, a company that manages parking spaces throughout the country. Doherty said LAZ will have an attendant on duty 24 hours a day in Beverly. He said staffing has not yet been determined for the Salem garage.
The Salem garage will have a “kiss and drop-off” area in front of the garage for drivers to drop off or pick up train riders. There will also be separate drop-off areas for buses and taxis.
Doherty said access will be made easier by the installation of a platform along the tracks that will allow people to step directly on and off trains without having to climb steps.
The MBTA has tried to address complaints that the Salem station is unprotected from the elements, he said, by adding an enclosed waiting area inside the garage with room for about 100 people. The area will not include heat or air-conditioning, he said, because those features attract people looking for shelter who are not using the trains.
“We find that it’s better for everyone if we don’t heat and cool it,” he said. “It’s much safer.”
There will also be two areas under the garage, although not enclosed, where people can wait for buses. The area along the roadway into the garage will be landscaped and include trees and benches, he said.
Doherty said the project lacked funding to incorporate art in the construction, but an architect designed an image of a locomotive wheel and piston for the side of the garage along the tracks.
The MBTA will make repairs to the historic brick signal tower next to the garage, then issue a request for proposals to see if someone wants to make use of it, perhaps for a coffee shop.
The garage is scheduled to open on Oct. 10, in time for the busy Halloween season in Salem.
In Beverly, Doherty pointed out that the four-level garage looks like it is only two levels, because one level is below ground level and another is on the roof. Cars can get into the garage from Rantoul Street in the front and from Court Street on the side.
The garage is set back from Rantoul Street, leaving an area where a building as tall as six stories could be built. The garage was also constructed to accommodate four stories of construction on top of the garage.
Doherty said the MBTA will put out a request for proposals in October looking for developers to propose projects for the space in front of the garage, on top of the garage, or both.
One big feature is a 150-foot covered walkway and bridge that extends from the garage over Pleasant Street to the train depot.
The roof will include solar panels and a snow melter. Instead of dumping snow off the roof, as happens at some garages, workers will be able to plow the snow into the melter machine, Doherty said.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or email@example.com.
Five levels, 715 spaces
Scheduled to open Oct. 10
Enclosed waiting area for 100 people (no heat or AC)
“Kiss and drop-off” area for drivers
Drop-off areas for buses and taxis
Raised platform to board train without steps
30-foot-long covered pedestrian bridge from Bridge Street
Four levels, 500 spaces
Scheduled to open Aug. 2
150-foot-long covered pedestrian bridge to train station
Solar panels on roof
Entrances and exits on Rantoul Street and Court Street
Two glass elevators
Enclosed bike storage area accessed with “Pedal & Park” Charlie Card
Electric vehicle charging stations
Designated Zipcar parking
Snow melter on roof