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Commuters Rally Behind New T Terminal Design

Most like the new, taller parking garage and bus and train terminal but want a heated waiting room.

The large crowd that showed up at the Tuesday night to see the latest design for the proposed larger, more expensive  terminal on Bridge Street liked what they saw.

The latest design was described by several speakers as "a vast improvement." And, the crowd gave Mayor Kimberley Driscoll, state Sen. Fred Berry, D-Peabody, and State Rep. John Keenan, D-Salem, a round of applause for securing an additional $5 million in state funding for the parking garage and terminal building.

The extra money added a fifth floor and more than 150 more parking spaces. It also added more brick to the building, a canopy for bus riders, bathrooms and a restored historic roundhouse building.

But it did not buy heating and air conditioning for the enclosed waiting room off the train platform. And that, according to Salem Councilor-at-Large Tom Furey, is "not an option." He said a comfortable waiting room is not a luxury. It is a necessity.

Ward 7 Councilor Joseph O'Keefe agreed, as did most speakers, saying the passengers must be given a comfortable place out of the path of the wind across the North River.

And Pamela Jendrysik, who drives her husband to the train station early each morning, said the plan for the kiss-and-ride lane will not work without a heated waiting room because the passengers will stay in the car, not for a long, passionate kiss, but to stay warm until the train arrives.

"Then you will have a clogged kiss-and-ride lane," Jendrysik said. 

A series of large Salem employers backed the new plan over previous designs.

David King, a senior executive with said the hospital gives its "unequivocal support." The new terminal will "turn Salem from being a transportation outpost to a transportation hub," he said.

Dr. Stanley Cahill, executive vice president of , said the university is excited about the new terminal and has been encouraging students and staff to ride the train. It provides a shuttle system between the terminal and campus during two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon, he said.

Juli Lederhaus, manager of the , and Kate Fox with Destination Salem said the new terminal will be a huge boost to Salem. "It is a tremendous step forward," Fox said. 

James Muse with Northshore Bank and the Salem Partnership called the latest design "a vast improvement," and he urged Salem residents to support the plans to keep the project on track. 

The mayor asked those in attendance to support the MBTA's request for a waiver from a full Environmental Impact Review, which she said could delay the project by 12 to 18 months.

There will be a hearing on the environmental issues involved in the project at 10 a.m. on Thursday at the City Hall Annex. Comments about the environmental issues can be submitted to the Massachusetts Environmental Protection Agency until July 20.

Some speakers urged the design team, headed by architect Jonathan McCredie with Fennick McCredie to enhance the design even more. The new design adds much more faux brick to the facade of the concrete building on the parking deck closest to Washington Street. The section away from the downtown will have no facade on the concrete, which prompted some critics to compare it to the Wonderland T station.

Some critics, such as Jeff Bellin, urged McCredie to use elements like Greek columns to break up the boxiness of the structure.

Significant improvements were added to protect the passengers from the weather. Without agreeing to heat and cool the waiting room, McCredie and his design team have added a 1,900 square-foot overhang area next to the platform. The space under a corner of the parking garage will cost three car spaces, but would give 100 passengers a place to wait for the train out of the rain and wind.

The bathrooms will be placed near the garage manager's office for increased security, and cameras will be installed to feed video to the MBTA security office off site. MBTA Project Manager George Doherty said there have been no discussions with on security issues for the new terminal.

Councilor O'Keefe urged Doherty to work with the local police force, who could respond faster if they had a direct video feed from the terminal.

Meg Toohey, who chairs the city's committee on improvements for pedestrians, said she is concerned about the safety of any woman in the parking garage after 8 p.m.

The MBTA design team will present the next round of design features on Sept. 24. The design is expected to be completed by December or January. And construction is scheduled to start next summer and be completed by the fall of 2014 — if the environmental studies do not delay the schedule.

chester suchecki June 27, 2012 at 10:30 AM
why haven't the enviromental studies been already?
Jared Robinson June 27, 2012 at 01:25 PM
I hope they do something about climate control. In the summer, we face the rising sun head on. Most people hide behind the current enclosures to stay in the shade And they're right about the Kiss and Ride turning into a 'stay warm and ride' lane. Right now cars are littered all over the lot, idling. I mean, how much more can an AC unit cost for that kind of installation? $5000? To get central air in my house which requires going into existing construction and adding electrical, it's like $6000.... For this they need a single large AC unit and can run exposed ducting or even hide it during construction. It's not a HUGE amount of money. I can only assume that room will be glass, which will do nothing but amplify the sun's heat in the morning. As for heating, those ceiling mounted electric heaters aren't that expensive.
Chris June 27, 2012 at 01:31 PM
What is a full Environmental Impact Review, and why wouldn't we want one?
Nancy Gilberg June 27, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Great question, Chris. I, too, would like to hear specifically what issues are covered in an E.I.R.
Chris June 27, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Apparently there's a meeting about it tomorrow, hopefully the Patch will be in attendance: "The MBTA has requested a waiver from the requirement to prepare an EIR. A consultation meeting will be held to receive advice and comments from agencies, officials, and citizens regarding whether the Secretary should grant this waiver request or require an EIR. There will be a brief presentation of the project with periods for questions and answers following. This meeting will be held in the City Hall Annex (120 Washington Street) 3rd floor conference room." http://salem.com/Pages/SalemMA_News/0383906C-000F8513
Nancy Weston June 27, 2012 at 09:23 PM
The extra 150 spaces makes a lot of sense. People are not there long enough for the added expense of A/C or heat. If you walk to the station that room will be used plenty!
Jared Robinson June 27, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Except the 'on-time' percentage for the Newburyport/Rockport line is dipping into the low 70s now... I sometimes get to the station 5 minutes before the train will arrive and it won't show up for 10-15 minutes more. On a hot day, this means I end up sweating through my work clothes and going to work a slob.
KlassySalem June 28, 2012 at 12:35 AM
I think the AC would cost more than you think. It would need to be a very large commercial unit, capable of keeping the glass room cool.
john June 28, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Maybe we could swap the greek columns for a/c? Unreal!
Bill June 28, 2012 at 11:14 AM
The mayor asked those in attendance to support the MBTA's request for a waiver from a full Environmental Impact Review, which she said could delay the project by 12 to 18 months. Ahh..love government..so efficient. When will this be actually done? 2016? 2017?
windpower June 28, 2012 at 11:21 AM
Speaking of mass transit ,Anyone know where the Salem ferry is ?
john June 28, 2012 at 04:32 PM
It has mechanical problems.
That Girl June 28, 2012 at 06:54 PM
I agree with Jared's comment below regarding the on-time factor of the commuter rail. I would rather have any extra money put toward some train cars that aren't constantly broken down. I've been commuting from Salem for two years now... we live in New England. It gets cold here. Tough it up and deal. Wear a warmer coat. As for the heat of summer, that makes me ill but again, I tough it out and deal. There is, sadly, an inflated sense of entitlement these days. We don't NEED a shelter with A/C and/or heat, what we NEED are trains that arrive on-time, alerts that pop-up on my phone with enough lead time to enable me to change my plans. Telling me at 7:42am that the 6:44am train is running late doesn't help me at all. Spend money on things that will matter and not on frivolous crap.
William Legault June 28, 2012 at 06:58 PM
The ferry is undergoing major repairs. Despite there being no "major announcement" that is pretty well common knowledge. The new ferry operator is running on schedule with replacement vessels.
john June 28, 2012 at 08:42 PM
I assume that Salem is on the hook for the repairs.I don't see any possible way for the ferry to work financialy. I would bet that this year won't even pay for the repairs never mind any profit.
windpower June 28, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Sorry not repair. A new engine from Germany .MY guess $75 to 100 k and what do you have ? Another engine soon .There are two ! On schedule ? Not really ,and after this weekend Marblehead will be slowing these boats down big time .
john June 28, 2012 at 09:41 PM
We have a contract with a company using their own boat,why do we need a boat? This is a disgrace. Extending the pier and thinking cruise ships will someday tie up at the power plant is a joke.The city needs to tell Salem what is going on.

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