As part of the Silver Line Gateways Alternatives Analysis, MassDOT evaluated several route alternatives to extend Silver Line service to Airport Station in East Boston and then beyond into Chelsea. Please find maps outlining the route for each alternative below.
In all of the alternatives, service would depart from South Station and mirror the existing Silver Line service in the Seaport District; it would reach East Boston via the Williams Tunnel to the Blue Line Airport Station. From there, vehicles would enter the Coughlin Bypass Road and then cross the new Chelsea Street Bridge. From this point, there are two basic route choices under consideration:
- busway alternatives that would operate in a dedicated alignment right-of-way, with an option to serve Bellingham Square;
- on-street alternatives that use Central Avenue to reach Bellingham Square with a variety of ways to speed up the service, including transit signal priority and dedicated bus lanes in key locations.
In the busway options, vehicles would reach the Commonwealth-owned former railroad right-of-way by taking one of several entry routes from Eastern Avenue. The busway would be exclusive to transit vehicles (and possibly emergency responders), traveling along the back of Bellingham Hill across the city. This service could include a short on-street connection to reach into Bellingham Square via Chestnut Street to City Hall. Options for terminating the service in the Mystic Mall area include an on-street loop using Spruce Street and Everett Avenue; a loop within the Market Basket parking lot; or a turnaround loop within the busway corridor itself. MassDOT anticipates four stations on this route: near the Central Avenue/Eastern Avenue intersection; at Highland Street (in the Box District); at the Commuter Rail Station to facilitate transfers; and at/near the Mystic Mall. The Bellingham Square option would terminate there and not serve either the Commuter Rail Station or Mystic Mall.
The route for the busway alternative would be the former railroad right-of-way along the back of Bellingham Hill to Mystic Mall.
The route for a similar busway alternative that uses a reconfigured Chestnut Street to serve Bellingham Square as its end point rather than Mystic Mall.
In these options, once across the Chelsea Street Bridge, vehicles would travel on Central Avenue into the Bellingham Square area. In the outbound direction, a dedicated bus lane would be added to the block of Central between Hawthorn Street and Shurtleff Street (created through the removal of on-street parking). In the inbound direction, a dedicated bus lane would be created on the approach to the Eastern Avenue intersection. In downtown Chelsea, a dedicated bus lane is envisioned for the length of Hawthorn Street (created through the removal of on-street parking on one side of the street) and on Washington Avenue in Bellingham Square. This alternative would result in the removal of approximately 22 parking spaces on Central Avenue and 24 parking spaces on Hawthorn Street. One option would explore extending the on-street alternative beyond Bellingham Square to the Everett Avenue area, using a contra-flow bus lane on 6th Street (where 16 on-street parking spaces would need to be removed) to access a terminus station at Arlington Street or Mystic Mall. Other station locations for the on-street alternative would be located at the Central/Eastern intersection, the Central/Highland intersection, and in Bellingham Square.
Central Avenue parking reconfiguration to include a bus lane on its approach to Eastern Avenue.
Hawthorn Street reconfiguration to include a bus lane on its approach to Bellingham Square.