House Speaker Robert DeLeo had a great familiarity with the old Orient Heights Blue Line while growing up in East Boston, he recalled Tuesday morning before a ribbon-cutting at the newly refurbished station.
“I couldn’t help but think about my younger days when I would be here every single morning in my commute to Boston Latin School at the time,” said DeLeo as one of the trains approached the station. “And I knew exactly where every door would open, where every crack was, and the noise of the trains as well.”
The Orient Heights stop is the last of a series of Blue Line renovations in East Boston. Some preliminary work is underway at the Government Center Station, which will be closed during the more extensive overhaul beginning next year.
After being closed since March, Orient Heights reopened for commuters Tuesday morning, though some finishing touches, such as escalators, have yet to be completed.
The $28 million project features a new pedestrian bridge divided into two, with one side leading riders from the inbound to the outbound platform, and the other side ferrying the general public completely across the station and subway tracks.
Sen. Anthony Petruccelli, an East Boston Democrat, said the station is near his home, and also serves Winthrop, where DeLeo now lives.
DeLeo noted the “countless hours and the countless meetings” he held in the office of former Senate President Robert Travaglini, an East Boston Democrat, “to make sure that this was a special place, and that the residents of East Boston, Winthrop and Revere would be well taken care of.”
MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott said the new station has solar panels that will provide 20 percent of the electricity, new bike racks and new zones for motor vehicle drop-offs and bus stops.
“We’re doing some great things in this community,” Petruccelli said, noting the expansion of an East Boston greenway.
Rep. Carlo Basile, an East Boston Democrat, said the construction proceeded with “no complaints from the community, and it was just a smooth transition.”
Basile, who is charged with negotiating a final version of a bill to help veterans dubbed the Valor Act II, said, “Dealing with a lot of veterans that are handicapped, I really appreciate what the station looks like, and its accessibility.”
Revere businessman Joe Ruggiero, of Ruggerio Funeral Homes, has committed to provide “perpetual maintenance for the space,” the MBTA announced. The construction was done by Barletta.
“On time, on budget. We denied all of your change orders, so it’s on budget, and it was on time,” Davey said, eliciting laughs. Among the attendees was former MBTA General Manager Bob Prince.
DeLeo also described when he first met Scott, saying, “She hugged me. She kissed me. It was a great experience.”