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Updated: Building A Better T: MBTA Announces Accelerated Schedule for System Upgrades, Cuts Project Timelines

Posted on August 12, 2019

Update

Updated on September 5, 2019

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Today the MBTA announced several planned system upgrade construction projects will be accelerated, shortening some timelines by as much as 11 months for certain projects. System upgrade work to improve reliability for riders on the Green, Red, and Orange Lines that was previously scheduled to take place only during limited overnight hours will now take place during entire weekends, requiring shuttle service around certain stations. 

The accelerated work plans approved by the Fiscal and Management Control Board will deliver benefits to riders significantly faster and allow T crews to undertake multiple projects at the same time as opposed to performing projects one after the other during the limited overnight hours.

In June, the Baker-Polito Administration announced as part of the $8 billion, 5-year plan to modernize the MBTA, transportation officials would speed up planned work to improve the system faster. MBTA officials also announced they plan to undertake additional acceleration plans in the near future.

“Riders deserve a reliable, safe transportation system and while we understand this accelerated plan will be inconvenient for some riders, we believe these temporary diversions are necessary to improve the system that has been neglected for decades,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The MBTA will continue to evaluate upcoming planned projects for this fall and next year for additional opportunities to accelerate work where possible.”

“We know that diversions in service are an inconvenience in the short term, but these shutdowns will allow us to quicken the pace of investments in the system more efficiently and effectively,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “We’ve heard loud and clear that we need to accelerate the pace of improvements. This is an especially important opportunity for the MBTA to replace track in areas that aren’t accessible to work crews without these shutdowns. We’re taking a holistic approach in getting as much work done as possible, and we’re hopeful that customers will see and feel these incremental advances in reliability and the customer experience.”

Accelerated Projects

green line Green Line Intersection Upgrades

The MBTA is making 30 intersection upgrades on the B and C branches to mitigate the risk of service interruptions by replacing aged track. 

  • The acceleration plan condenses planned work by 5 months, by increasing the number of weekend diversions from 10 to 14 on these branches. 
  • This will help complete the project by December 2019 instead of May 2020. 
  • The T will now also replace 7,000 feet of track during the planned weekend diversions.
  • For complete information on these weekend diversions, visit mbta.com/acceleration and Alerts.

red line Red Line: Park Street Wayfinding and Station Improvements

The MBTA is replacing and adding new wayfinding signage, adding 1,250 new lighting fixtures, and cleaning, painting, and repairing stairs/tile within the station.

  • The acceleration plan condenses planned work by 4 months, by doing 4 new weekend diversions on the Red Line in November and December 2019.
  • This will help complete the project by December 2019 instead of April 2020.
  • The T will now also replace 900 feet of track and do tactile edge replacement on platforms during the diversions.
  • For complete information on these weekend diversions, visit mbta.com/acceleration and Alerts.

red line Red Line: Downtown Crossing Wayfinding and Station Improvements

The MBTA is replacing and adding new wayfinding signage, and cleaning, painting, and repairing stairs/tile within the station.

  • The acceleration plan condenses planned work by 11 months, by doing 4 new weekend diversions on the Red Line in November and December 2019.
  • This will help complete the project by December 2019 instead of November 2020.
  • The T will also replace 900 feet of track and do tactile edge replacement work on platforms during the diversions.
  • For complete information on these weekend diversions, visit mbta.com/acceleration and Alerts.

orange line Orange Line: Downtown Crossing, Haymarket, and State Wayfinding and Station Improvements

The MBTA is replacing and adding new signage and cleaning, painting, and repairing stairs/tile within the station.

  • The acceleration project will condense the project timeline by 11 months through 6 new weekend diversions on the Orange Line in October and November 2019.
  • The T will also now replace 2,250 feet of track and clean and paint within Chinatown Station.
  • For complete information on these weekend diversions, visit mbta.com/acceleration and Alerts.

These projects will mitigate the risk of service interruptions, improve safety for passengers, improve on-time performance, increase accessibility, and improve the customer experience.

The MBTA is also in the process of preparing an aggressive schedule of shutdowns for the 2020 construction season that may include weekday shutdowns in addition to a greater frequency of weekend shutdowns. Details of this plan are anticipated to be released in fall 2019.

Details on Work

red line Red Line

Four new weekend closures on the Red Line between Kendall/MIT and Broadway Stations will take place in November and December 2019 to accelerate the pace of Red Line improvement work. The broad limits between Kendall/MIT and Broadway are necessary as these areas are "portal" access points for work crews to load in construction equipment and materials into the underground portions of the Red Line where work will take place. During these weekend shutdowns, alternate service will be provided with a robust communication plan in place to provide information to customers.

Work specific to improvements on the Red Line levels at Park Street and Downtown Crossing Stations will take place during these 4 new weekends, including improvements to the condition and appearance of each station, upgraded wayfinding/signage in compliance with accessibility standards, cleaning work, painting, and other needed repairs. The addition of these 4 weekend shutdowns also means that Park Street’s improvement work will occur 4 months earlier than previously planned and nearly a year earlier at Downtown Crossing’s Red Line level. 

During these 4 new weekend shutdowns on the Red Line, MBTA crews and contractors are also able to remove and completely replace the “pit track” in closed stations. The Red Line pit track in these areas is over 30 years old and, while safe to travel over at reduced speeds, is ready to be replaced. Pit track is the track within the station itself, which isn’t accessible to work crews without a complete shutdown.

The broad closure limits during these 4 added weekends in November and December 2019 also give the MBTA a valuable work window to perform additional maintenance at closed stations that include repairs to platform edges, escalators, elevators, stairways, and fare equipment. During these 4 weekends, MBTA crews and contractors will also perform track and power maintenance in the tunnels between stations, including the complete replacement of third rail insulators and third rail electrical connections. Tunnel debris clean-up work will take place as well, reducing the risk of smoke and fire hazards.

orange line Orange Line

Six new weekend closures on the Orange Line between Tufts Medical Center and Sullivan Square Stations will take place in October and November 2019 to accelerate the pace of Orange Line improvement work. As with the Red Line’s broad limits in added weekend closures, the broad limits between Tufts Medical Center and Sullivan Square are necessary as these areas are "portal" access points for work crews to load in construction equipment and materials into the underground portions of the Orange Line. During these weekend shutdowns, alternate service will be provided with a robust communication plan in place to provide information to customers.

Work specific to improvements on the Orange Line levels at Downtown Crossing, Haymarket, and State Stations will take place during these 6 new weekends, including improvements to the condition and appearance of each station, upgraded wayfinding/signage, cleaning work, painting, and other needed repairs. The addition of these 6 weekend shutdowns allows the MBTA to complete work on the Orange Line level of these 3 stations almost a year earlier than previously planned.

As with the Red Line’s added weekend closures, MBTA crews and contractors will also remove and completely replace the pit track in closed Orange Line stations during these 6 weekend closures, which would not be accessible to work crews without a complete shutdown. The Orange Line pit track in these areas is 30 – 40 years old and, while safe to travel over at reduced speeds, is also ready to be replaced. 

Similar to the Red Line’s added weekend closures, the broad closure limits on the Orange Line during these 6 added weekends in October and November 2019 also give the MBTA a valuable work window to perform repairs to platform edges, escalators, elevators, stairways, and fare equipment; perform track and power maintenance in the tunnels between stations, including the complete replacement of third rail insulators and third rail electrical connections; and perform tunnel debris clean-up work, reducing the risk of smoke and fire hazards.

green line Green Line

Four new weekend closures on the Green Line B and C branches will take place in September, October, and November 2019 to accelerate the pace of upgrades at 30 Green Line grade crossings at intersections where tracks are crossed by city streets. The addition of these 4 weekend shutdowns allows the MBTA to complete the work on the Green Line B and C branches 5 months earlier than previously planned. During these weekend shutdowns, shuttle bus service will be provided with customers encouraged to anticipate an additional 15 – 20 minutes of travel time.

During these 4 new weekend shutdowns on the Green Line, MBTA crews and contractors are also able to remove and completely replace an additional 7,000 feet of track on the B and C branches. About 60% of the Green Line track in these areas is over 30 years old and, while safe to travel over, is ready to be replaced. 

Following the completion of this work, the MBTA anticipates the Green Line operating more reliably with a reduced risk of track issues and the elimination of some speed restrictions, translating into a faster trip for customers. Upgraded grade crossings at Green Line intersections also mean improved access for pedestrians and safer areas where Green Line tracks meet walkway areas. 

The MBTA understands that shutdowns are a temporary inconvenience, but appreciates customers' understanding as the accelerated pace of work will improve future service faster. Complete shutdowns in service provide the T with valuable work windows to address infrastructure improvements and maintenance work that could not otherwise be performed without these closures.

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