The Fairmount Line opened in 1855 and was one of Boston’s first commuter railroads, running approximately 9 miles between South Station and Hyde Park. After long years of declining ridership, the line was closed down in 1944 – it was reopened by the Mass. Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in 1979, but without any Dorchester or Mattapan stations. In 1987, two new stations opened in Mattapan (Morton Street) and Uphams Corner due to community pressure. Carrying about 2,000 riders daily, it is the smallest commuter line in the MBTA system and the only one entirely contained in Boston, MA. Currently there are four stations – Uphams Corner, Morton Street, Fairmount and Readville – and the line runs through communities (Dorchester, Mattapan and Hyde Park) that constitute more than 30% of Boston’s population.
Over the years, the Fairmount Corridor Collaborative (FCC), a group of local housing and economic development agencies, realized the commuter line was travelling through rather than serving the transit needs of the neighborhoods. Dorchester and Mattapan communities are served mostly by bus routes. “Transit equity”, when wealthier parts of society receive more transportation benefits while communities at lower income levels receive less beneficial transportation or experience more air pollution and noise effects of transit activities, was the issue to address for the Fairmount Line. Economic development (smart growth) along the Fairmount Line would also help improve the neighborhoods’ quality of life.
The Collaborative recognized there was a need and began working together to advocate for new neighborhood stations, renovation of existing stations, track and bridge improvements and more frequent service. The initial members of this collaborative were Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation, Quincy-Geneva CDC, Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation, Mattapan CDC, and Southwest Boston CDC who serve over 175,000 largely low- and moderate- income and minority residents combined. Other civic organizing partners include Four Corners Action Coalition, Project Right, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, Conservation Law Foundation, Alternatives for Community & Environment, Boston Natural Areas Network, and All Things “02136”.
The collaborative has successfully pushed for new Dorchester stations along the line at Newmarket/South Bay, Four Corners, Talbot Avenue, and one for Mattapan, and renovations to the existing stations and other improvements. There are also two (2) proposed stops currently pending at Columbia Road and River Street. Other focuses of the collaborative include transit-oriented-development, using cleaner diesel fuel for the trains, and other transit equity for the residents in the distressed neighborhoods along the line. A more recent focus is the promotion of environmental justice opportunity called the Fairmount Greenway.
The Fairmount Greenway is an opportunity to improve and preserve greenspace along the Fairmount Line. It came into existence around November 2008 by the Fairmount/ Line CDC Collaborative, who then partnered with local non-profit organizations and neighborhood groups within their jurisdiction forming the Greenway Task Force. The vision for the Fairmount Greenway is to have a walkable and bikeable path not only along the Fairmount Line but also looping through some of the nearby neighborhoods. Thus far, each neighborhood has chosen various open spaces or “green spots” that will be used to represent that specific community. Each spot is going to have common signage and a brief history written by the residents. The idea is to provide passersby with the opportunity to see and experience what the residents think of their neighborhood. There will also be directions throughout the loop to guide visitors back to the main path. The Greenway Task Force has had some success, in terms of advocating for their neighborhood but still has a long road ahead of them. They are hoping to complete this project or be close to completion by the end of December 2012.
For more information on this project please contact us and remember to check back for updates!
Research by Sherimon Harris, DEHC intern – Green Space
Here are some links to more background on the Fairmount Corridor:
Shelterforce: Getting From Here to There – “The Indigo Line”, Feb. 2010