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Editorial: A pricey passenger platform

The $2 million estimate for a passenger train platform in Greenfield seems a tad pricey, even if it’s built to be “accessible.”

It’s not that we don’t think that a platform that will allow Amtrack and commuter rail passengers to get on or off with ease isn’t important. The Recorder has long supported the idea of passenger rail expansion that would connect Greenfield and Franklin County with other communities.

Part of the rationale for building the John W. Olver Regional Transportation Center on Olive Street was to have a place where such passenger trains could stop.

However, from what we can tell, based upon the architect’s rendering of what the platform will look like, $2 million doesn’t seem to go very far these days. It’s essentially a steel and concrete platform partly covered by a roof, located on one side of the track. There’s no enclosed space, no incredibly ornate iron work ... and instead of stairs, there are going to be ramps leading up to the platform from the parking lot.

Even if we consider possible landscaping, we’re still stumped by such a price tag.

We’re not talking about constructing elevators or escalators, there are no bridges to be build to link two platforms. No tunnels, no ticket booths — in other words, it’s a concrete slab ... standard stuff.

So standard, in fact, that we wouldn’t be surprised if the platform mirrors those used elsewhere in the state based upon Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority design guidelines, ones that follow the The Massachusetts Architectural Access Board regulations for accessibility and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Except for specific modifications for the site then, there should be cost saving involved since the bulk of the architectural specifications should be already in hand and the design doesn’t have to be created from scratch.

Admittedly, construction costs have gone up over the years so that perhaps $2 million no longer goes as far as it used to. Still, if you were building a house, think about what $2 million would get you.

And, if a more than two trains a day schedule doesn’t come to fruition, it’s going to be an expensive landscaping project for a few passengers.

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