This Boston Area Commuter Garage Is Literally Falling Apart

Many areas at the Alewife garage are fenced off to prevent people from parking or walking where debris could fall.

Justin Hughes

The Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority is literally propping up the Alewife parking garage in Cambridge after crumbling pieces fell off it in multiple incidents last week, reports WCVB 5.

Last Wednesday a chunk of concrete fell on top of a car, leading MBTA officials to block off 500 parking spaces where they thought this might happen. In a separate incident, concrete was reported falling from the ceiling at the entrance to the parking garage on Friday. At this point, the garage was closed and remained so throughout the weekend for emergency assessment and investigation.

Justin Hughes

A crack on the roof level appeared to have been filled with spray foam insulation on Thursday.

Sen. Cindy Friedman called on the MBTA to detail its plans for the Cambridge garage, roll back a planned parking fee increase, and in general "do a much better job of communicating with us."

"Have you looked at the Alewife station? It's being held up by hydraulic jacks. It has been for years," said senator Friedman at a meeting of the T's Fiscal and Management Control Board, according to WBUR. "It is in such a state of disrepair that people are frankly scared to go there, and yet it is the only place to park if you take the Red Line from those west and northwestern suburbs, so we are really in a crunch here."

Justin Hughes

The Alewife garage will be closed nights and weekends indefinitely.

Alewife opened in 1985 as a major bus terminal and commuter parking garage, as well as the new western end of the Red Line, having been extended from Harvard University. It lies at the intersections of Routes 2, 3, and 16, and close to Interstate 95-Route 128, the inner beltway around Boston. Though intended to be seven stories tall, the Alewife garage was only built to five stories after the project ran short on money.

Justin Hughes

A Subaru BRZ parks next to closed spaces and braces that add extra support to the third level roof.

"Additional areas of deteriorated concrete were discovered that needed to be addressed," MBTA General Manager Luis Ramirez told WBUR. "Considering the space constraints within the garage and because of the additional deterioration, we decided to close the garage for the weekend, again realizing that this caused an inconvenience to our customers. The fact is, the safety of our customers, employees and our contractors is and has to be our number one priority."

Justin Hughes

The roof continues to slowly crumble in some areas, closed for parking.

Indeed, my own visit to Alewife on Thursday showed many areas fenced off to prevent people from parking or walking in where debris could fall. Extra bracing was installed in several places as well to help reinforce the structure. As a result, the garage was reopened at 5:00 a.m Monday morning. But due to continuing work, it remains closed overnight and on weekends for the foreseeable future.

Justin Hughes

More braces help support a major beam of the structure on the second floor.

Ironically, the MBTA awarded a $5.7 million repair contract for the Alewife garage last week, the first portion of $14.3 million is included in the T's five-year capital plan. The work scheduled to start next month includes repairing beams, patching concrete desks, re-caulking deck joints, and cleaning and flushing the existing drainage system. It seems this will be happening not a moment too soon.