MBTA to Provide Shuttles Between Haverhill and Bradford Train Stations as Downtown Stop Closes July 15

Downtown Haverhill commuter rail stop. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority—or MBTA—officials were apparently not swayed by Haverhill’s opposition to closing the downtown Haverhill train station for about a year. However, in a victory for the city, they promised Tuesday to provide a shuttle service to and from the Bradford station.

The MBTA confirmed Tuesday it will close the station to commuters in July, as first reported in April by WHAV, during construction of the $20.3 million South Elm Street railroad overpass. Haverhill Mayor Melinda E. Barrett said the MBTA, however, changed course and agreed to spend an estimated $1.1 million for a shuttle. She explained she laid out the case for shuttles.

“You have the poster child for MBTA Communities that people live next to the rail stations and now you’re telling them they have to hoof it over a bridge that isn’t handicapped-accessible when you get off over there,” she told WHAV.

The mayor also pointed out shuttle buses become increasingly important as the Pfc. Ralph T. Basiliere Bridge replacement downriver potentially overlaps construction and sends more cars over the Joseph Comeau Bridge. In addition, she noted, plans for a mixed-use district by Historic New England and the $160 million Merrimack Street redevelopment project require downtown visitor access.

“They were reluctant to do it and we were able to convince them it was important,” Barrett added.

The mayor also said she worried about motorists unable to find parking spaces in Bradford while the construction of the Beck apartments is ongoing. Drivers will still be able to park at the Haverhill station’s 300-space parking lot and use the shuttle. MBTA officials said in a statement, a van for all passengers, including those will accessibility needs, will operate on a continuous loop between Bradford and Haverhill.

The downtown Railroad Square station closes to MBTA commuter rail passengers beginning Monday, July 15, until the summer of 2025 while work on the South Elm Bridge, originally built in 1906, takes place.

The MBTA said it plans to replace bridge with a modern single-span structure with a useful life of 75 years. It will include a ballasted steel deck for a smoother passenger ride and roadway, sidewalk and drainage improvements along South Elm Street.

Staff from the offices of Sens. Barry R. Finegold and Pavel M. Payano and Reps. Andy X. Vargas and Ryan M. Hamilton and Councilor Ralph T. Basiliere also participated in an April 22 walking tour to demonstrate accessibility concerns.

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