Milton Sues MBTA Seeking Repair of ‘Perpetually Decrepit Staircase'
By Bianca Beltrán, NBC10 Boston
The town of Milton is suing the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority to compel the agency to repair a dilapidated staircase at the Milton Station.
The legal complaint states that "Milton's efforts have been ignored by the MBTA, leaving Milton with its hands tied and a perpetually decrepit staircase in a station frequently used by its residents. After years of attempted resolution and serious frustration, Milton files this suit as a last resort. To be clear, no monetary damages are sought; Milton simply seeks to compel the MBTA to do its statutorily-imposed job."
"It's a blighted eyesore and a hazard for the town," said State Rep. Bill Driscoll Jr. He is one of several local and state leaders who wrote to the MBTA urging the staircase be replaced.
In a letter responding to these requests, MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak explained the Adams Street staircase cannot be repaired and reopened because it would require extensive repairs to make it fully accessible.
"At a minimum, this would require installing an elevator, and elevating the platform approximately 14 inches, which is roughly 8 inches higher than the existing platform. This would impact all station connections and ultimately require a full station replacement," wrote Poftak.
He also noted the staircase is scheduled to be demolished as part of the MBTA' Mattapan Line Transformation Project. The goals of the $114 million project include providing state of good repair and enhancing accessibility to all stations.
As part of the project, the Milton Station will eventually be replaced. Poftak wrote that the MBTA is in the process of moving forward with demolition of the Adams Street staircase. The agency plans to have a demolition contractor in place by the end of the year.
"That's great news, but the issue is that in order for those to be renovated, it's going to take many, many years," said Driscoll. "Just some basic math is telling me that we're going to be well beyond 2023 before this staircase is repaired and reopened, and the town has repeatedly said that this is just not acceptable."
With the Adams Street staircase closed, passengers can either access Milton station through the MBTA parking lot by walking through the parking lot of a private storage facility or from the Neponset Trail.
"It's outrageous. I understand that they want to make this accessible, but now it's inaccessible to everyone," said Linda Lewi.
She lives nearby in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood and is part of the Lower Mills Civic Association.
"You have to walk through this area, this parking lot, which is unlit at night, is not plowed, and so it's treacherous," Lewi said. "It's incredibly dangerous at night for people, and it's been this way for years."
In his letter to Poftak, Driscoll urged the agency to accelerate plans to replace the staircase.
"If necessary, the MBTA should seek any waivers regarding ADA compliance issues for the time being and accelerate the plan to reopen the staircase. Currently, there are two at grade access points to the station via the track adjacent parking lots and Greenway trail," the letter read. "However, these access points cross private and public property that may eventually be redeveloped and rendered inaccessible during construction or rerouted altogether. This provides all the more reason to ensure that direct pedestrian access via a replacement staircase to and from Adams Street is restored as soon as possible."
Fencing and a cement barrier block access to the staircase, but some worry continuing to delay repairs will prolong risk of another incident.
"I just don't understand why it takes so long," said passenger Peter Joyce. "I actually get off at JFK, and the same situation happened there, where they had stairs, and there was a gentleman who died, but it took about six months to replace stairs at JKF, as well, so it seems like it's a chronic problem."
The MBTA is holding a virtual public meeting regarding the Mattapan Line Transformation Project Tuesday evening. The meeting agenda includes an update on the Milton Station stairs.