For the second consecutive year, the Union Square MBTA station will be closed during the Somerville Annual Convention What the Fluff Festivalwhich raises concerns among the organizers of the event.
The train station will be closed for 25 days from September 18, according to the Department of Transport announced on Wednesday.
The popular Fluff Festival takes place on September 23 from 3pm to 7pm in the heart of Union Square. It regularly attracts more than 20,000 visitors. The festival celebrates Marshmallow Fluff, which was originally made and sold in Somerville.
Union Square Main Streets is monitoring the festival and has raised concerns that the T closure will impact attendance.
The MBTA also closed Union Square for the festival last year, just weeks after the station opened.
“It was frustrating and disappointing,” Jessica Eshleman, executive director of Union Square Main Streets, told Boston.com. “We know there is a bridge that needs repairs, but because this has been happening for two years in a row, the timing is just a very difficult agreement.”
According to MassDOT, Green Line service will end in Lechmere beginning September 18 to refurbish the Squires Bridge, which carries Route 28/McGrath Highway via the Green Line’s Union Branch, the Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line and the Somerville Avenue Extension . No shuttles will be offered as a substitute for the service.
Union Square Main Streets reached out to the city and elected officials in advance to lobby for a closure that would not overlap with the festival this year, Eshleman said. Union Square Main Streets wasn’t sure about the schedule for the closure until yesterday’s MBTA announcement.
Eshleman said she recently had a phone call with a senior MassDOT representative who is considering providing shuttle service from Lechmere to the Union Square area.
“It has been made clear to me that MassDOT hopes to reduce the impact on the festival, so I remain optimistic that MBTA will continue to provide shuttle services on the day of the festival,” Eshleman said.
There’s no way to understand the direct impact of closing Union Square last year on attendance, Eshleman said, but festival numbers are only one factor. Vendors depend on the Fluff Festival to build their clientele.
The 25-day closure of Union Square is a consolidated version of MassDOT’s original plan to close the station from July 18 through August 28. The 42-day closure drew backlash from locals and political officials, prompting the Healey administration to delay the closure until September.
“We know this will be an inconvenience to Green Line passengers and we have worked to adjust our construction schedule to minimize the impact as much as possible while balancing the need to complete the necessary infrastructure work,” said Jonathan Gulliver, MassDOT’s highway manager in a press release. “With this new 25-day plan, we can find a better balance between making critical repairs and minimizing the impact on transit service.”
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