Mishawum MBTA station bill heads back to committee

WOBURN - Following a public hearing on Tuesday at the Statehouse, a bill that would establish a committee to study the viability of the Mishawum MBTA station will likely be sent to the committee, where it stalled last year.

The joint House/Senate Transportation Committee hosted the public hearing on House Bill 1231, which would create a 10-member subcommittee that will recommend whether Mishawum station should be restored as a regular stop on the Lowell commuter rail line into Boston.

When the Anderson RTC was opened three years ago, Mishawum station was down-graded to "flag stop" status - meaning anyone who wants to get on or off must get the attention of the conductor for the train to halt.

According to state Rep. Carol Donovan, D-Woburn, the Transportation Committee will likely forward a favorable recommendation for the bill, which would then move to the House Rules Committee, chaired by state Rep. Angelo Scaccia, D-Boston. No action was taken on the bill when it was sent to that committee last year.

"Unfortunately it looks like we are back to square one," said Ward 5 Alderman Paul Medeiros, one of five people who testified in favor of the bill on Tuesday.

"Last time I believe, the senate voted it out and the house committee chair let it sit," added Medeiros. "Let's hope we can move it this time. It would be such a huge benefit to everyone that works and lives in Woburn to have this station open again."

The station is generally used by "reverse commuters" who live closer to Boston and work at hotels and other businesses in the Mishawum commercial section, which also includes Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse and the Woburn Mall. The downgrade of Mishawum station increased the distance these employees had to walk, since the Anderson RTC is about a mile further north.

Part of the argument for those in favor is that there are enough commuter rail customers to warrant a second regular stop in Woburn, particularly since Winchester has two stops along the same line - Winchester Center and Wedgemere.

In addition to Donovan and Medeiros, others speaking in favor were Rep. Jay Kaufman, D-Lexington, whose district includes wards 1 and 7 in Woburn, Mayor John Curran and Paul Meaney Sr., executive director of the Woburn Business Association.

Unable to testify but sending letters of support were state senators Robert Havern, D-Arlington, and Charles Shannon, D-Winchester, Lori Medeiros of the Woburn Mall, and a representative from Marriott Courtyard hotel on Mishawum Road.

The Mishawum stop was very convenient to quests staying at the four hotels along Mishawum Road looking to get into Boston.

© 2000 Woburn Daily Times Inc.