New Orange Line station opens at Assembly Square

Yesterday the MBTA opened its first new rapid transit station in 27 years at Somerville’s Assembly Square. It’s the first Orange Line station in Somerville and one of six transit stations slated to open in the city in the next decade with the other five being part of the Green Line Extension project.   The station will serve as a key component of the mixed-use, transit-oriented Assembly Row development, and is predicted to be used by 5,000 passengers per day by 2030.

The station was financed through a public-private partnership, with the Assembly Row developer Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRIT) picking up about 30% of the total cost. State and Federal funding will cover the remaining cost of the station. The decision by the City of Somerville to issue bonds for $25 million of other infrastructure improvements at Assembly Square was key to gaining MBTA approval of the project.

Assembly Square was once a thriving manufacturing center that hosted, among other industries, a Ford Motor Company assembly plant which produced the famous “Edsel” brand of cars in the 1950s. However, the site experienced an extended economic and physical decline after Ford decided to close its manufacturing plant. The construction of elevated highways in the 1970s cut Assembly Square off from surrounding areas and played a role in decisions by the remaining industries to move their business as well. In 1980, The City of Somerville declared the area blighted and substandard, and started a 20-year urban renewal plan that would turn the area into a retail mall.

Assembly Square Station under construction in May 2014. Photo by Todd Van Hoosear and made available under Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0 license.

Assembly Square Station under construction in May 2014. Photo by Todd Van Hoosear and made available under Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0 license.

The new Assembly Square Mall attracted some new retailers, but didn’t achieve the economic growth envisioned by the city. The formation of the Mystic View Task Force in the late 1990s was key to the creation of a new 20-year plan that called for a mixed-use concept that would promote economic growth and increase the standard of living for local residents by offering open space and public amenities.

Earlier this summer, phase one of the smart growth project was completed with the opening of 32 retail outlets, a theater, restaurants, the “Legoland Discovery Center,” and a waterfront park at the Mystic River shore, complete with bike paths and an amphitheater.

Although the majority of construction at Assembly Station is now complete and the station is open to passengers, some work at the station will continue through November. Please click here for more information on remaining construction work.

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