MBTA announces 14 stations will be made accessible through federal grant

As far as Olivia Richard is concerned, the MBTA has just announced they plan to build more than a dozen brand-new Green Line train stations.

Richard, who uses a wheelchair for mobility and rides the Green Line daily, said that the Thursday announcement the T had successfully landed over $67 million in federal funding to improve accessibility at several B and C line stops means, for the first time, that those stations will be available for her use.

“As a wheelchair user who has never been able to access these 14 stations independently before, this is essentially equivalent to constructing 14 new stations that never existed to me. This is awesome,” Richard, of Brighton, said during a press conference held at Brookline Town Hall

Richard’s assertions brought applause from Gov. Maura Healey, U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, MBTA General Manager Phil Eng, and Federal Transit Administration Regional Administrator Peter Butler, all of whom had been scheduled to meet alongside the Green Line for the announcement Thursday morning, but were chased indoors by the rain.

According to GM Eng, that $67 million in grants from the FTA will cover about 80% of the cost of upgrades, meaning the T was able to secure “the maximum that we can have.”

“We’re going to deliver this project for everyone that needs it,” he said.

The money will be used to upgrade the wheelchair ramps on Green Line trains, to widen the platforms at C and B Branch stations enough to allow wheelchair access, and for the installation of benches at the stations, Eng said. As it stands, 40 of the Green Line’s 70 stops are accessible, and work being done now at Symphony Station will bring that number to 41.

Construction will begin next year, Eng said, more than two decades after Joanne Daniels-Finegold and about a dozen others sued the MBTA to force them into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

According to Daniels-Finegold, the settlement-forced improvements that aren’t just for people like her who use a wheelchair, but to those “who are blind, people who are deaf, any one of a number of non-apparent disabilities, invisible disabilities.”

“They’re for people who are temporarily disabled by a broken limb or people who have a number of children and carriages and packages, and people who are going to the airport. All of the access improvements have not just improved the lives of those of us who are disabled. They’ve improved the lives of the passengers in general,” she said.

Stations scheduled for accessibility upgrades include Brandon Hall, Chestnut Hill, Chiswick Road, Dean Road, Englewood Avenue, Fairbanks Street, Hawes Street, Kent Street, Packard’s Corner, Saint Paul Street, South Street, Summit Avenue, Sutherland Road, and Tappan Street, and the MBTA will begin seeking bids this summer, Eng said.

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