BPDA Achievements

Fairmount Indigo Planning Initiative

A new route towards access and economic development for Dorchester.

The Fairmount Line has cut a path through Boston for over 150 years, but has only recently gained attention as a prime catalyst for community and economic development in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood.

The 9.2 mile rail line has gone through several incarnations to date. Originally built as a passenger route in 1855, the train was downgraded to moving freight due to low ridership in the early 1900s. In 1979, it was reinstated as an MBTA Commuter Rail train, but only offered two stops to riders within Dorchester with limited service. This meant that only 40,000 residents had the benefit of living within walking distance (½ mile) of a Fairmount Line station, though many thousands more were affected by the train’s noise and vibration each day. Those who did live nearby a station were charged higher fares to use the Commuter Rail than they would have paid for an MBTA “T” train to travel a similar distance.

This lack of access to the Fairmount Line began capturing the attention of residents and officials in the late 1990s. In 2000 a coalition was formed to analyze the feasibility of adding new stations. The successful study recommended the addition of four new stations, Newmarket/South Bay, Four Corners, Talbot Avenue, and Blue Hill Avenue/Cummins Highway, which will be completed by 2014. Fares at the stations will equal the MBTA rapid transit fares.

But transportation access is not an end to itself. The City recognized the significant potential for growth in the areas around the new stations and wished to capitalize on that momentum. A planning effort was needed in order to understand adjacent community needs and to focus potential economic development. As a result, in February 2012, Mayor Thomas M. Menino launched the Fairmount Indigo Planning Initiative at the historic Strand Theater in Upham’s Corner, Dorchester.

The Fairmount Indigo Planning Initiative is a comprehensive community-based, corridor-wide planning process that the City is undertaking with various community participants and partners. It is the City’s largest planning initiative to date. The City Team, led by the Boston Redevelopment Authority, along with its consultants and the community, have created a shared vision and coordinated set of strategies to unlock greater potential for each of the station areas and neighborhoods than would exist for each area acting in isolation. The planning effort focuses upon the following:

  • guiding physical and economic development;
  • encouraging sustainable growth and transit-oriented development (TOD);
  • prioritizing economic prosperity for existing residents and businesses;
  • and incorporating existing planning initiatives (city-led and community-based) into one vision for the future.

The Planning Initiative is ongoing, and you are invited to learn about upcoming meetings and events on the Fairmount Indigo Planning Initiative website.

Highlights and Achievements

  • 42,000 additional residents will live within walking distance (½ mile) of the new stations, doubling local access.
  • 6.75-10 million square feet of future development capacity in the corridor.
  • 2,000-3,000 new jobs (10% employment growth).
  • 5,000-6,000 new residents (12% population growth).
  • $176 million MBTA investment into stations and upgrades.
  • Consultant team includes Cecil Group as the primary consultant, and HDR, Shook/Kelly, The BioEngineering Group, Byrne/McKinney, McMahon Associates, and SAS/Design as sub-consultants.
  • 2014 projected plan completion.

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