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South Station Air Rights Project Open House Unveils Plans

With the multi-phase South Station Air Rights Project set to begin construction later this month, members of the project team held an Open House in the Fort Point Room of the BSA Space for the purposes of public engagement.

The project, which is a collaboration between the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA), Hines (developer) and the MBTA, will include the long-awaited completion of the South Station Transportation Center, feature updated rail and bus terminals along with a mixed-user tower set to provide office as well as residential space.

Potential benefits were cited, including:

  • Significant, additional recurring income to the MBTA
  • Increased capacity of bus terminal by 50%
  • A far more convenient and comfortable intermodal connection for passengers transferring from buses and parking to trains or subway
  • An architecturally significant public space at the train station concourse that enhances the image of South Station as a gateway to the City
  • A weather-protected environment for all patrons of South Station
  • Reduction of the MBTA’s cost of, and facilitation of the expansion of the railyard and platform areas onto, the adjacent USPS property
  • Wayfinding and safety enhancements for transit patron with disabilities
  • Railyard fire and life safety improvements
  • Other railyard infrastructure improvements to enhance the safety of patrons and reduce operating and maintenance costs of MBTA

According to Project data, service on the Red and Silver Lines should not be impacted. Bus operations will also not be impacted, but construction work will be noticeable while the expansion is underway. For MBTA Bus Route 4, 7 and 11 Users: The Summer Street at South Station stop will be relocated approximately 50ft west, closer to the main entrance.

A proposed timeline would span approximately 54 months and take place in several stages:

  • January 2020: Begin creation of construction access and staging areas on Atlantic Avenue, Summer St and adjacent to Track 13.
  • February 2020-July 2020: Track and platform modifications (work done at night); retail kiosk relocations;complete construction access and staging areas
  • July 2020: New Commuter Rail and Amtrak passenger routing in place around tower construction zone.
  • July 2020 – January 2021: The structure supporting the bus terminal expansion is constructed at night.
  • July 2022: Expanded bus terminal opens.
  • June 2024: Train station improvements and access to expanded bus terminal from train station platforms complete; mixed-use tower opens.

The most noticeable change will occur during the month of July, when eight doors between South Station and the outdoor concourse area will be closed. Access will be maintained via five sets of bifold doors built during the initial six months of construction.

Potential challenges facing commuters in and around the construction zones were raised at the Open House, centered around travel time delays, potential track/route changes, and fears of congestion and bottlenecks. According to the MBTA and project leaders, studies have been conducted in anticipation of these issues. Additional concerns included cost and completion time.

“Our intention was to facilitate a ton of productive conversations centered around this complex project. There’s a lot of impact and many commuters will be affected in different ways – this allows them the chance to ask whatever questions they have and get a sense of where we’re at in the process.” said Kate Norton, Principal at Norton Communication Strategies. Rob Rogers, a member of the project team, expressed confidence in what he referred to as an “innovation-driven initiative, transporting South Station into the future.”

Those interested in a visual representation of the project can click here to view the state of temporary conditions during construction. A Pedestrian Pathways document can be accessed here, showcasing the different stages of development. Any questions regarding the project can be sent to