Happening Now


May 31, 2019

Taking in some much needed transit-oriented development in Lowell, MA

by Joe Aiello | Northeast Field Coordinator

“Papier-mache canals flowed in downtown Lowell, men smoking cigars stand by the rail spitting in the waters that reflect the drizzle hopelessness of 1926.” ― Jack Kerouac, Visions of Gerard

Come on, Jack. It’s not THAT bad.

I will fully admit that in the 10 years that I have lived in Cambridge, I have had little reason to spend time in Lowell. That is not a shot at the city - it’s just that there hasn’t been much of a pressing need for me to take the 30 mile trip north over the years. I think I have been there 5 times total before yesterday: twice for a state convention, a Lowell Spinners game, a North-South Rail Link Town Hall, and a Northeastern/Lowell hockey game (Go Huskies!).

After spending time in the city yesterday for MassINC’s Northern Massachusetts TOD Forum, I would really like to get up there more often. The highlight of the day was a walking tour (you can see some of the photos I took in the tweet thread embedded below) highlighting some of the new development and projects surrounding the Charles A. Gallagher Transit Terminal - which handles the commuter rail and local RTA buses. We saw the construction of the “Signature Bridge” , toured the new Thorndike Exchange complex (which, when opened, will have around 150 apartments, retail space, and a restaurant with a roof deck - all across the street from the train station), and walked around what will be the “Big Fill” site (making it easier for people to move around - not just vehicles). Some of us ended the tour getting lunch at a spot in the Mill No.5 development - and that market alone is worth a trip to Lowell! Seriously. Go check it out.

City planners and private developers in Lowell are making the train station a place and not just a “utility”.

It really did remind me of the tour Abe and I took in October of the development in Meriden, CT thanks to the new Hartford Line and each and every time I travel along the Downeaster route up to Portland (I’m looking at you Saco!)

Now if we could only get the MBTA to expand service and make the $10 weekend pass a permanent thing (like my hometown Metra does) then we can see and enjoy the growth happening in our Gateway Cities.

Speaking of TOD and “stations as places”, #SBR19 is about to happen and you are going to want to get on board. http://summerbyrail.com/