A Look Ahead at the Government Center T Station Makeover

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Posted June 25, 2013 by Lauren Carter in Urban Living
Government Center T station

I recently visited City Hall Plaza, and let’s just say the look of the Government Center T station leaves something to be desired. Situated in the shadow of the hulking Boston City Hall—in an expansive square where Hub residents are known to hang out, catch some rays, and attend events like the recent Jimmy Fund Scooper Bowl—the current T station looks, well, like a T station: no frills, no nonsense, and no aesthetic appeal.

Government Center T station old entrance

This boring, ziggurat-shaped entrance will be a thing of the past once renovations are complete. Photo Credit: Matthew Bisanz

While I’m generally more concerned about getting from point A to point B on time than being wowed by subway architecture, the station’s basic look does seem a bit underwhelming for a high-traffic locale with the inner-workings of Boston government right next door.

But all of that is about to change with a radical $90-million makeover that’s designed to improve both aesthetics and accessibility at the busy station, which serves an estimated 11,000 commuters on weekdays.

Improvements will include redundant elevators, renovations to Green Line and Blue Line platforms, a new entrance and lobbies, and reconstruction on Cambridge Street and a portion of City Hall Plaza near the station, all resulting in a “modernized, customer-friendly station.” The overhaul also will bring the T station into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and aesthetically, it should turn a few heads with a tall, glass-lined station entrance or “headhouse” that will be a dramatic improvement over the current ziggurat-shaped brick entrance.

Government Center T station new entrance

A tall, glass-lined “headhouse” should be an improvement over the current entrance. Photo courtesy of the MBTA

Other upgrades will include: new escalators, LED signs, station lighting and mechanical systems, a public address system, a security and monitoring system, and more vendor retail space on subway platforms. Considering the station was built in 1897 and hasn’t been modernized in 50 years, it should look dramatically different once renovations are complete.

Now for the bad news.

According to The Boston Globe, the T station will shut down for two years beginning in late summer or early fall of this year, with Green and Blue Lines passing through the station but not stopping there until renovations are completed. For those who will be inconvenienced by the closure, the MBTA will provide bus service to transport commuters, and a special bus route will stop at the Government Center, Haymarket, and State Street subway stations.

The MBTA says that closing the station during construction will allow work to proceed more rapidly, minimize delays, and improve construction quality as well as worker and public safety. In other words, the two-year inconvenience will be worth it in the long run.

So for those who normally frequent the Government Center T station in their daily travels, plan to build a few extra minutes into your commute time starting this fall, and look forward to visiting a more attractive and user-friendly station in the not-so-distant future of 2015. Now if only they could do something about those overcrowded subway cars.

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