Lawrence Mayor DePena Tackles Long Neglected Conditions of the Buckley Garage

Buckley Garage Renovations

As a matter of precaution, the city of Lawrence inspected the conditions of the Buckley Garage at Amesbury Corner and Common St., to avoid the situation that was presented in Museum Square. The information that follows was taken from a report issued to the City of  Lawrence which collects the team’s observations to restore the John Buckley Parking Garage that is located at 99 Amesbury Street (on the corner of Amesbury and Common Street).

The primary work for the renovations to the Buckley Garage in Lawrence, MA will include the repairs and restoration to two existing four-story stairwells. Work includes, but is not limited to, the repairs to the stair treads and risers, painting the stairs and stairwell, and replacing the emergency lighting. Providing new signage, providing new replacement emergency lighting and exit signs, and more.

As a matter of precaution and while funding for the project is appropriated, the City of Lawrence inspected the conditions of the Buckley Garage in order to get ahead of the issues and avoid the situation that presented itself at Museum Square.

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The information that followed was from observations of a prior administrations team, without any follow-up. Once the issues were brought to the attention of the Mayor Brian De Peña, by DPW Director Jorge Jaime, who discovered that the stairs were in such a poor state that needed to be replaced. Upon further examination, several other repairs were believed essential in order to keep garage in optimal conditions.

The main areas of deficiency on the interior of the garage are due to water damage, normal wear, and code requirements. Water penetration on the lower floors of the stairs in both towers has caused erosion to the metal structure and spalling of the concrete landings and treads. The fourth-floor elevator enclosure has water stains on the ceiling from a leak in the roof.


Accessibility entering and exiting the covered portion of the garage forces users to go back and forth between the sidewalk and asphalt roadway. Multiple blind spots for drivers and bus traffic along with the walking paths in their current state should be considered a pedestrian safety shortfall. Also, vehicular traffic entering the parking garage partially blocks pedestrian traffic due to the entrance gate location.

The existing garage has four major components from a traffic circulation point of view.

  • The first element is vehicular access to the garage.
  • The second element is vehicular circulation within the garage.
  • The third element is pedestrian and bicycle circulation around and within the garage.
  • The fourth element is the circulation of Merrimack Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) busses within the first-floor bus depot and intermodal terminal.

Pedestrian circulation within the garage is adequate. No attempt has been made to determine compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or Architectural Access Board (MB) standards. However, there appears to be adequate pedestrian circulation within the garage itself. The sidewalks along Common Street and Amesbury Street are inadequate for appropriate pedestrian circulation. Numerous obstructions make pedestrian pathways substandard in terms of width relative to ADA/AAB standards. In addition, mostly the path of travel is entirely technically sufficient, pedestrian level-of-service is inadequate owing to the numerous obstructions. On Common Street, there is a primary switchgear station that significantly obstructs pedestrian travel, as well as numerous poles, and trees.

Existing electrical service appears to be sufficient for the existing loads in the building. Six car charges are located in the lower level. These devices are a recent addition to the building systems. No vehicles were being charged during the visit.

With the garage being renovated, this presents the city with the opportunity to eliminate the booths or replace them with state-of-the-art parking systems. The city is systematically upgrading all city-owned parking facilities. As part of that process, the city is upgrading all of its revenue collection systems. It would be logical to standardize revenue collection systems across the city by using the booth and revenue collection system currently being installed at the Common Street parking lot.

The other approach to revenue collection would be to use a radio frequency identification (RFID) system, either exclusively or just for permit parkers. For instance, permit parkers could be issued an RFID tag that activates the gates and allows for an expeditious exit from the facility.

Regardless of the method of revenue collection, the booths should be moved further into the garage to allow for adequate queueing without blocking the sidewalk or disrupting traffic in the travel lanes of the two adjacent streets. The recommendation is to allow sufficient queuing area for up to 3 vehicles in the garage. To provide queueing for three vehicles, the booths would need to be placed 60 feet from the back of the sidewalk at the entrances.

Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority (MVRTA) Terminal

The first floor of the garage functions as the MVRTA bus terminal in downtown Lawrence. Known as the Buckley Transportation Center, this facility accommodates 16 service lines. Buses circulate every half-hour. All busses arrive at the Buckley Transportation Center at roughly the same time and depart at roughly the same time.

The bus circulation in the Buckley Transportation Center flows very efficiently. The arrivals and departures are a very well-choreographed event. However, egress from the terminal is challenged by traffic queues on Amesbury Street southbound at Common Street.

Vehicular access to the garage is provided at two access and egress points. One access point is on Amesbury Street and one access point is on Common Street. Each access point has substandard access and egress conditions. The report details what changes will take place at both entrances and exits to facilitate automobiles in and out and bus traffic as well as vehicles traveling on Common St. and Amesbury St.

Bicycle parking is inadequate in the garage. There is bicycle parking within the bus terminal area of the garage on the westerly end. However, there is no bicycle parking at the easterly end of the garage. This prevents efficient loading of bicycles for those boarding busses on the east end of the terminal.

Mayor De Peña points to the stairs as the most immediate replacement to be done given their dilapidated state. Overall, these are easy fixes that will not cost lots of money in repairs and prevent major expenditures in the future.

The garage opened in 1993 and was named for former Mayor John Buckley, who was elected in 1951 and served for 22 years, making him Lawrence’s longest-serving mayor. The Buckley Garage has not had any major repairs since its opening. The upcoming repairs are part of an ongoing city’s capital improvement of the City of Lawrence’s infrastructure.