, Salem, MA


July 22, 2013

Our view: Short-term disruption, long-term gain

It’s difficult to tell North Shore commuters looking at a year or so of disruption in their daily lives to “grin and bear it,” but that may be the best option for the next several months.

On Saturday, Salem’s sprawling commuter rail lot shut down to allow workers to begin construction on a new $37 million station and parking garage. Work is expected to take 14 months, and the 460-car lot will be closed for the duration.

That’s a major upheaval for thousands of North Shore residents, many of whom work in Boston but were drawn to Salem and its surrounding communities by its ready access to commuter rail.

“It will be disruptive,” Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll told reporter Tom Dalton last week. “We are doing our best to manage through it and provide alternatives.”

Already, there have been complications. A longer-than-expected environmental cleanup has delayed the opening of a lot at the old Universal Steel site across the street from the station on Bridge Street. And once it opens sometime in August (or later), it will fit only 120 cars. Suggestions that commuters use the North Beverly or Montserrat stations don’t take into consideration that those spots are already dealing with overflow from people who regularly use the Beverly station, which is getting a new garage of its own.

Under the best circumstances, the morning commute will be longer and more expensive for the next several months.

But here’s the thing: The work absolutely needs to be done. There’s a desperate need for a modern train station and more parking in that part of downtown, not just for commuters to Boston, but for people looking to come to Salem for business or pleasure. The city, with its mix of municipal and civic buildings (including the new J. Michael Ruane Judicial Center), historic attractions, restaurants and shops, has become a North Shore hub, one that has outgrown its current train station.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Comments Tracker
Roll Call
Helium debate