SALEM — Salem police and MBTA personnel redirected the steady trickle of cars that pulled into Salem’s commuter rail lot yesterday morning, unaware that the parking lots were closed.
The station’s 460 parking spaces were closed over the weekend, as the MBTA begins construction on a new $27 million parking garage and station in Salem. Parking will remain closed throughout the expected 14-month project.
Some train riders were caught unawares yesterday, despite outreach from the T and Mayor Kim Driscoll’s office. Others were confused by the new “kiss and ride” drop-off areas and changes to traffic patterns.
Salem resident Tara Osgood said she knew about the closure, came early to catch the train yesterday and was “shocked” to find street parking. She normally parked at the now-closed station lot.
“I was winging it,” said Osgood as she waited for a train just before 8 a.m. “We’ll see how it goes. I think (parking) is going to get worse. We’ll see how winter is ...(The new garage) will be good once it’s done.”
The city had hoped to have a 120-space lot available at the former Universal Steel site across from the station on Bridge Street, but weather and an environmental cleanup have delayed the project. The lot is not expected to be ready until mid-August or later.
As they waited for a 7:30 a.m. train yesterday, Salem resident Ann Marie Carr and Peabody resident Jean Berman said they felt the parking closure could have been better communicated.
“Nobody knows what’s going on,” said Carr, who said she’s commuted for 20 years. “It just feels like everything is being done backwards ... It could have gone much smoother if they just made the temporary lot (at the former Universal Steel site) sooner.”
Berman, who takes a taxi to the station every morning, said she had to explain to her taxi driver where to go yesterday morning.