Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) will undertake the Silver Line Gateway project, which will extend the Silver Line bus rapid transit to Chelsea via East Boston in Massachusetts, US. The project will link the South Station and Seaport District in Boston with East Boston and Chelsea.

Construction on the Silver Line Gateway project is expected to start in 2014 and be completed by 2016. The project is estimated to have cost approximately $82.5m, $20m of which will be dedicated for the development of the new Chelsea commuter rail station.

The project is expected to have a daily ridership of 8,730 passengers. Of the total, 2,500 will be from the new transit trips while the remainder will be diverted from other oversubscribed MBTA bus routes.

Details of the Silver Line

The Silver Line is a bus rapid transit system being operated by MBTA in Boston. MBTA currently operates two separate Silver Line services, one along the Washington Street using articulated 60ft-long buses powered by CNG and another in the South Boston Piers Transitway using dual mode (diesel electric) vehicles. The line will be further extended to Chelsea under the Silver Line Gateway project.

Silver Line Gateway development

The Gateway project will be constructed in two stages. The first stage will involve the construction of busway and BRT stations at Mystic Mall, Box District and Eastern Avenue. It will also include the reconstruction of the Washington Avenue Bridge.

“The project is a part of the Boston Metropolitan Planning Organisation’s 2014 Transportation Improvement Programme (TIP).”

The second phase will include the construction of a commuter rail station at Mystic Mall and a BRT station at Downtown Chelsea, as well as the decommissioning of the existing commuter rail station. It will also include the evaluation of the busway traffic signal system along the route.

Purpose and benefits of the new bus rapid transit system

The Silver Line Gateway project is being undertaken to enhance the transportation access, mobility and economic development potential of Chelsea and East Boston. The residents north of downtown Boston will benefit from the work and leisure opportunities in the Seaport District. The project is a part of the Boston Metropolitan Planning Organisation’s 2014 Transportation Improvement Programme (TIP).

It will take just 17 minutes from Chelsea and East Boston to Boston’s Seaport District on the Silver Line Gateway, which is half the time taken by other existing public transportation modes.

Route and construction details

Buses will follow the Silver Line service in South Boston before taking the Ted Williams Tunnel and will stop at Airport Blue Line Station. They will then take the new Coughlin Bypass Road and enter Chelsea via the Chelsea Street Bridge.

A new busway will be built in Chelsea along the former Grand Junction railroad. Four new stations at Eastern Avenue, Box District, Downtown Chelsea and Mystic Mall will feature along the busway.

The Washington Avenue Bridge will also be reconstructed as part of the extension project. It will be constructed in two stages. The first stage will involve the demolition and reconstruction on the Eastern side. The demolition and construction on the west side of the bridge will be undertaken during the second stage.

A two lane busway will be constructed under the reconstructed bridge. The replacement will create space for the rail line and two busway lanes to pass under it.

The Chelsea commuter rail station will be completely rebuilt and relocated to Everett Avenue. The new station will comprise 800ft long, high-level side platforms, with canopies on some sections. It will be constructed in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The new station will directly connect to Bellingham Square via new access road to Washington Avenue.

Funding for the Silver Line Gateway project

Massachusetts Department of Transportation Highway Division will fund the construction of the Silver Line Gateway BRT project.