When North Harbor residents move into their new waterfront apartments off the Lynnway in two years, many will make the commute into Boston.
While there’s no guarantee the ferry from Blossom Street to Long Wharf will be operating, one thing is certain. Construction will be underway on a $33 million restoration of the MBTA commuter rail station in Central Square, steps from the 332-unit apartment complex.
Next month, Thorton Tomasetti, a New York engineering firm with a Boston office, is expected to begin design work to replace the gritty T stop and its cavernous parking garage. Work on the new station is expected to be completed in 2023.
Eric Loth, managing director of Minco Corp., the North Andover real estate development company that broke ground in December on the $100 million residential project, said having a modern station will not only serve new residents of the housing development, but the rest of the city.
“Having the commuter rail station was always a selling point for us,” Loth said. “But now it’s kind of dilapidated and the state’s willingness to commit that much to Lynn is wonderful. Look at what happened when the T renovated Revere Station. It’s kicked off so much growth.”
In 2013, the MBTA built a 1,465-car garage at Wonderland. The $53.5 million project also included a new sheltered busway, bicycle storage, and improved pedestrian connections.
State Rep. Peter Capano (D-Lynn) said several factors have contributed to the fact that few Lynn residents use the commuter rail.
“There have been complaints about the station and the garage for many years,” he said. “People don’t feel safe, there’s yellow caution tape all over the place, it’s smelly, and run down.”
The other factor is there are too few trains to Boston, Capano said, and the available ones are packed by the time they reach Lynn. In addition, the fares cost too much. At $15 for a round trip, Capano said, that’s too expensive for Lynn residents.
Last month, the MBTA’s Advisory Board said it will consider more trips from Lynn to Boston, as well as lowering the price for commuters.
“If the T makes those changes, combined with a new station and garage where people will feel safe and comfortable, there’s a good chance of reducing some of the congestion going into Boston,” Capano said. “Today, Lynn does not benefit from having the station there. But when the project is done, it will be an asset we can be proud of.”
The ferry had a brief run in the summer of 2014, 2015, and 2017. But it has been dormant ever since due to the lack of funding.
Three years ago, the boat operated a single departure from Lynn at 7:45 a.m., and one evening return from Boston at 6 p.m. The cost for the 35-minute trip was $7 each way, $3.50 for children and seniors.
Despite Mayor Thomas M. McGee’s intense desire to keep the ferry afloat, neither the city nor the Massachusetts Department of Transportation has come up with the cash for its operation.
Through a spokeswoman, Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, who serves on the Lynn Economic Advancement and Development (LEAD) team, the 12-member group formed to attract private developers and fast-track permits to the city, declined to be interviewed. A T spokesman declined to make anyone available for comment.