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Natural Resource Protection

Commuter Rail passing by wetlands
Commuter Rail crossing Parker River in Newbury (June 2021)

Our transit system passes by many types of environmental resources including wetlands, waterways, forests, and coastal regions. As one of the largest landowners in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the MBTA has a responsibility to support and improve the health of the communities we serve.

Our responsibilities include, but are not limited to: 

  • Protecting waters from pollution 
  • Improving water quality 
  • Protecting wildlife 
  • Addressing soil and groundwater contamination issues 
  • Promoting the safe and responsible use of natural resources 

Programs supporting these responsibilities run throughout MBTA operations—from the way we design and construct  facilities, to the way we operate and maintain  tracks and systems.

Building a Better T

As part of our $8 billion, 5-year capital investment plan, we're renovating stations, modernizing fare collection systems, upgrading services for our buses, subways, and ferries, and improving the accessibility of the entire system.

Learn more

Wetlands and Waterways

Commuter Rail passing by wetlands and waterways
Commuter Rail crossing Rumney Marsh in Revere (June 2021)

In the mid 1800’s, rights of way were often developed along flat wetland areas and railroad bridges were built across navigable waterways. Today, the MBTA continues to work and operate in areas where natural resources are abundant. As we upgrade and repair our system, we must plan to protect these are

as and their resources. To avoid unnecessary impacts on natural resources, the MBTA has established protocols and best practices for developing projects and operating our system.

Shawsheen River Bridge 

Commuter Rail passing over Shawsheen River Bridge and waterway
Commuter Rail crossing Shawsheen River Bridge (June 2021)

Constructed in 1847, the Shawsheen River Bridge on the Wilmington/Billerica boarder is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Work on this bridge required both historic preservation as well as conservation of the surrounding wetlands and the waterway it passes over.

The project required slope stabilization to prevent materials from washing into the river. We restored much of the bank and performed wetland improvements on adjoining properties.

View a presentation on the Shawsheen River Bridge project

Wildlife

The MBTA works with the Division of Fish and Game (DFG) to maintain safe crossing areas for wildlife. These well-lit crossings are located near known animal habitats as well as locations safe for animals to live. They were first installed to help turtles cross railways, and since then, studies have shown that a variety of wildlife, including foxes and rabbits, use them too.

South Coast Rail

Blandings turtle
Blandlings turtle

The South Coast Rail passes though areas that are known habitats for state-listed endangered species—including the Blandings turtle. To protect them and make sure the rail line does not interfere with the turtle’s mobility or habitat, the MBTA is establishing over 100 wildlife crossings across the entire 40 miles of the project. In addition, the MBTA is working with the DFG to preserve and protect land for species inhabitance.

View a presentation on the SCR project

Stormwater Management

Green roof on Orient Heights Station reduces the amount of stormwater runoff entering the municipal storm system
Green roof on Orient Heights Station reduces the amount of stormwater runoff entering the municipal storm system (June 2021)

Some MBTA stations and carhouses are located near bodies of water. Stormwater and runoff pollution prevention is an essential part of planning, construction, and use of these facilities. Download the stormwater pollution prevention plans (SWPPP) associated with each project below.  

In addition to Stormwater Plans, the MBTA has implemented Spill Control and Countermeasure (SPCC’s) for all required facilities. The SPCC’s layout the specific steps, infrastructure, and procedures at each facility to prevent oil spills that could affect navigable waterways or adjoining shorelines. For more information on the MBTA’s SPCC program, contact the MBTA at environmental@mbta.com.

Environmental Clean Up

Readville Yard 5

The MBTA inherited the 45-acre land parcel now known as the Readville Yard 5 facility in the 1970’s. The previous owners had used the land for vehicle maintenance and left behind debris, refuse, and contamination that became a concern for the T and the surrounding communities.

Cleanup of the area included the removal of 17,840 tons of contaminated soil, 11.2 tons of trash, 1,009 tons of concrete and metals, and 74 tons of railroad ties.

Today the MBTA uses a small portion of the site for rail purposes, while another part is under construction for commercial use.

Building a Better T

As part of our $8 billion, 5-year capital investment plan, we're renovating stations, modernizing fare collection systems, upgrading services for our buses, subways, and ferries, and improving the accessibility of the entire system.

Learn more