Trains at Lechmere station in August 2018
|Location||Cambridge Street at O'Brien Highway|
East Cambridge, Massachusetts
|Platforms||2 side platforms|
|Tracks||1 (balloon loop)|
|Connections|| MBTA Bus: 69, 80, 87, 88|
|Parking||0 spaces (lot closed for construction)|
|Opened||July 10, 1922|
|Rebuilt||2010; 2021 (planned)|
|Passengers (2013)||6,421 (weekday average boardings)|
Lechmere is a light rail station and the present-day northern terminus of the MBTA Green Line. It is located at Lechmere Square in East Cambridge, Massachusetts near the intersection of Cambridge Street and Monsignor O'Brien Highway (Route 28). Green Line trains run around a balloon loop, inside which is a small yard used for midday and overnight storage. The station has two platforms, which are not connected within fare control; the outbound terminus is on the northeast side of the loop and the inbound platform is on the southwest side. Lechmere station is fully handicapped accessible.
As part of the Green Line Extension project, the current (1922-built) Lechmere station is planned to be demolished. A new elevated station will be built on the opposite side of the O'Brien Highway. This station will be adjacent to the Northpoint development and will have a direct connection to the Somerville Community Path. The new station is planned to open in 2021, and will be an intermediate station on the "D" and "E" branches and will no longer serve as a terminus.
East Cambridge station
The Boston and Lowell Railroad (B&L) opened between its mainsake cities in 1835. Passenger service initially ran express between the two cities, but local stops were soon added. One of the first was East Cambridge, originally located near the Prison Point Bridge. By 1865, it was moved north to the foot of Third Street, closer to development on Dog Island (East Cambridge). The station was popular with employees from Somerville commuting to the factories of East Cambridge; among its more famous users was Benjamin Butler.
In 1926, the Boston and Maine Railroad (B&M), which had acquired the B&L in 1887, began work on North Station plus an expansion of its freight yards. The B&M proposed to abandon East Cambridge and Prospect Hill stations in order to realign the ex-B&L into the new station. Although most inner stations were largely replaced by streetcars and automobiles at this time, East Cambridge was still used by both industrial workers and by those headed to the Middlesex County Courthouse, and the proposed closure was locally opposed. The Public Utilities Commission approved the closures in March 1927; one train was rescheduled for ten minutes earlier to accommodate court attendees. The stations closed on April 25, 1927.
When the Tremont Street Subway fully opened in 1898, surface cars entering the subway from Cambridge Street and Bridge Street in East Cambridge had to cross Craigie's Bridge and proceed on surface streets to the Canal Street Incline. The trip from Lechmere Point over the bridge was slow and prone to delays. After five years of construction, the Lechmere Viaduct and Causeway Street Elevated opened on June 1, 1912, providing the streetcar routes from Harvard Square and much of Somerville a direct route into the subway.
The surface lines that fed into the subway via Lechmere Square had poor schedule reliability, which became a larger issue as the Tremont Street Subway and connecting lines became a rapid transit service in its own right rather than merely a collection of existing streetcar lines. On July 10, 1922, the Boston Elevated Railway opened a prepayment station at Lechmere. Typical of BERy projects, it was set up for efficient transfers between rapid transit and surface collector lines. A balloon loop with separate inbound and outbound platforms served terminating trains from the subway, with off-street streetcar boarding areas next to each. Surface cars could drop off passengers at the inbound platform off Cambridge Street, proceed under the elevated line, then board passengers at the outbound platform off Bridge Street. Connections between the surface and elevated tracks allowed cars to move between them if needed, and a small storage yard was located inside the balloon loop
As most existing subway service from the south and west looped at Park Street, a new service was inaugurated between Lechmere and the Pleasant Street Incline. Beginning January 2, 1923, this was changed to loop at Kenmore (a surface station at the time) and some trips were extended along the Beacon Street Line to loop at Washington Square. On February 7, 1931, Commonwealth Avenue and Beacon Street service was extended from Park Street to Lechmere, and the separate shuttle service to Lechmere was discontinued.On February 7, 1931, the Beacon Street and Commonwealth Avenue lines were extended to Lechmere, replacing shuttle services between Lechmere and various points in the subway.
The 66 streetcar (later renumbered as the 77, then the 69) was the first route to be converted to trackless trolley in 1936. The remaining surface routes out of Lechmere were converted to trackless and later bus over the next three decades. The inbound side surface boarding area was eventually disused; the outbound side was converted to a busway and the direction of traffic through it reversed for improved bus operations.
Several years after it was inaugurated in 1959, the Riverside Line was extended to Lechmere at most times. The MBTA took over transit operations in 1964. With the ability to reverse Green Line trains at Park Street, Government Center, North Station, and Lechmere, the MBTA frequently switched which lines ran to which downtown terminals to match passenger demands and other operational needs. On September 10, 1966, the remaining Commonwealth Avenue line service to Lechmere was cut back to Park Street. In 1967, the MBTA redesignated the remaining streetcar operations as the Green Line with branches "A" through "E". The Commonwealth Avenue line became the "B" Branch, the Beacon Street line the "C" Branch, and the Riverside line the "D" Branch. After March 25, 1967, the "C" and "D" branches served Lechmere at all times.
On March 25, 1974, the "B" Branch was extended back to Lechmere and the "D" cut to North Station; for the next decade, the "B", "C", and "D" frequently were switched between Lechmere and other termini. On January 2, 1983, for the first time in the station's history trains from Huntington Avenue (the "E" Branch) began serving Lechmere. On February 11, 1983, the "E" Branch was shut down by snow for several days; a Government Center - Lechmere shuttle ran in its stead, soon joined by some "D" Branch service. From December 28, 1985 to July 25, 1986, additional shuttle service ran between Lechmere and Kenmore. "E" Branch service resumed to Lechmere partially on July 26, and fully on June 20, 1987. The remaining Lechmere - Government Center shuttles were replaced with an extension of "D" Branch service on June 21, 1997.
Around 2000, portable lifts were added at Lechmere as a temporary accessibility measure. (Unlike other stations, Lechmere was not soon retrofitted with raised platforms due to the pending Green Line Extension.) On June 25, 2004, service to Lechmere was suspended as the Causeway Street Elevated was removed, and the surface and elevated platforms at North Station were consolidated into a new underground "superstation". A shuttle bus to Government Center accommodated Lechmere passengers. Service to Lechmere, operated only by the "E" Branch, resumed on November 12, 2005. Service past North Station was replaced with buses from April 30 to November 4, 2011, as Science Park station was rebuilt.
Green Line Extension and new station
The MBTA has proposed that it will break ground for the construction of a new Lechmere station, located on the opposite side of McGrath/O'Brien Highway in a new community called NorthPoint, as part of the Green Line Extension. Originally planned to open by 2017 and currently expected to open after 2020, the relocated station will connect with the associated Somerville Community Path. Completion of the extension will require 11 months of busing between North Station and Lechmere, with the current station scheduled to close in May 2020.
- 69: Harvard - Lechmere
- 80: Arlington Center - Lechmere
- 87: Clarendon Hill or Arlington Center - Lechmere via Somerville Avenue
- 88: Clarendon Hill - Lechmere via Highland Avenue
A busway is present on the inbound side as well; however, it is not currently used by buses.
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- Levy, Marc (November 20, 2019). "Buses will be back for 11 months at Lechmere as green line extension T project rolls onward". Cambridge Day.
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