The MBTA said today it's going to try to buy the 24-acre Widett Circle, which our brief Olympics bid lifted out of obscurity only to return to being the home of low-profile food-processing concerns, to use as a place to store commuter-rail trains between the morning and afternoon rush hours.
The T says it will likely also seek to acquire or use additional nearby land now owned by the city of Boston near Widett Circle - which was once dreamed up as home to a 60,000-seat Olympic stadium built atop a platform that could then be used to create a new mini-city after the Olympics.
But with that idea long gone, the T says today:
Existing layover facilities utilized by the MBTA are at or beyond capacity and impose significant operating inefficiencies. This is particularly challenging today due to the limited rail space available near South Station. Locating the layover facility at Widett Circle will reduce the time that trains must layover at South Station, which will increase capacity for additional rail services at the station, such as the future South Coast Rail.
The T initially began looking at Widett Circle, located on the other side of the Southeast Expressway from where it connects with Melnea Cass Boulevard, back in 2016 as part of its plans to expand South Station. Those plans, however, also hinged on the Postal Service moving its giant facility along Fort Point Channel to make way for four new train tracks, something that to date the Postal Service has resisted.
A 2017 MassDOT study on South Station expansion called for the use of Widett Circle and the addition of new tracks to a T rail facility in Hyde Park, near Readville station. Today's announcement is silent on whether the state is still looking to add more tracks in Hyde Park - under plans that also called for construction of sound barriers for residents who have long complained about noise from the current facility.