MBTA Renovates Harvard Square Subway Stop

Construction, MBTA, Harvard Square
EMILY A. PEREIRA

Construction of new elevators and escalators in the Harvard Square Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority T station has led to the temporary obstruction of Square storefronts along Brattle Street. The construction is scheduled to reach completion in the spring.

Students scavenging for caffeine at Crema Cafe or searching to quell a sugar fix at Hidden Sweets may have noticed Harvard Square’s own “Green Monster,” a large construction pit blockaded by fences covered in green tarp. The tarps conceal a construction project that will result in a renovated staircase, as well as a new elevator connecting the Brattle Square Plaza to the Red Line Upper Bus Platform.

The project is on time and is expected to reach completion in the coming spring, said Denise A. Jillson, executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association.

The renovation began as a result of a 2006 settlement of a class action ADA lawsuit filed by Greater Boston Legal Services on behalf of 11 individual plaintiffs and the Boston Center for Independent Living. As part of the settlement, the Masssachusetts Bay Transportation Authority agreed to spend $122 million over five years to upgrade and replace elevators and escalators at selected locations, including Harvard Square.

Dust and noise from the ongoing construction have disrupted several Brattle Street stores.

“Nobody likes it but everyone understands that it is necessary and required and they could not have performed better than they are right now,” Jillson said. “We are welcome to the project because we want Harvard Square to be welcome to all people.”

According to Liza Baer-Kahn, one of the owners of Crema Cafe, business has not been badly affected.

“We haven’t been terribly hurt—it just affects the environment of our customers and how pleasant it is for our customers, but we understood it had to get done,” Baer-Kahn said.

Construction on Brattle Street follows the recent completion of the renovated crosswalks across Brattle and coincides with the current reconstruction of DeGuglielmo Plaza, the site of the construction.

The project will lead to significant improvement in infrastructure, according to Katherine F. Watkins, supervising engineer at the Cambridge Department of Public Works. The renovated site will place an emphasis on keeping the design open and lending visibility to businesses that line the street.

Similar construction projects sparked by the settlement are also taking place at Park Street, Downtown Crossing, and Porter Square.

—Staff writer Michelle B. Timmerman at mtimmerman@college.harvard.edu.

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