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Building a Better T: MBTA Winter 2020 Weekend Orange Line Diversions Begin This Weekend

Posted on January 16, 2020

Four January – February weekend diversions from Sullivan Square to Tufts Medical Center start January 17.

Shuttle buses provided between Sullivan Square and Haymarket only. No service between Sullivan and Tufts Medical Center.

Customers urged to use parallel Green Line service through downtown Boston.

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Diagram of the Orange and Green lines. No train service between Sullivan Square and Tufts Medical Center. Shuttles run between Sullivan Square and Haymarket, where you can switch to the Green Line. Three Orange Line stations are not served at all (by either train or shuttle): State, Downtown Crossing, and Chinatown.

Today the MBTA reminded customers that upcoming weekend closures on the Orange Line between Sullivan Square and Tufts Medical Center Stations begin at 8:45 PM on Fridays through Sundays for 4 weekends in January and February starting tomorrow, January 17. 
These closures have been scheduled to replace Orange Line station track in both directions at North Station and to perform additional track work at State, Haymarket, and Downtown Crossing Stations. This weekend work has been scheduled to build off work that was performed during last fall’s weekend diversions as part of the 2019 Capital Acceleration Plan. These closures are expected to result in 840 feet of full-depth track replacement at North Station and will allow for the replacement of an additional 140 feet of track at State as well as 200 more feet of track at Haymarket.  

“This past fall, we made major progress in our efforts to build a better, safer, more reliable T,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “Continuing these weekend diversions in 2020 will allow us to maintain that progress while we look to take a more aggressive approach later on this year.” 
During these 4 Orange Line weekends in which service is suspended between Sullivan Square and Tufts Medical Center, shuttle buses will be provided between Sullivan Square and Haymarket Stations only. There will be no shuttle bus service to Orange Line stations at State, Downtown Crossing, and Chinatown with customers asked to travel via parallel downtown Green Line service. These 4 weekends are:

  • 8:45 PM on January 17 through January 19
    • Note: On Monday, January 20, 2020, the Orange Line will operate a Saturday schedule in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
  • 8:45 PM on January 24 through January 26
  • 8:45 PM on February 7 through February 9
  • 8:45 PM on February 14 through February 16

Following track work, the MBTA typically implements speed restrictions as a safety precaution, and customers should expect these to last for several days while the T monitors the proper settlement and consolidation of new track and stone ballast. Speed restrictions are lifted once engineers have confirmed proper settlement has occurred.

2019 Diversions

The 2019 weekend diversions—6 of which took place on the Orange Line and 4 on the Red Line—began the weekend of October 5 – 6 and stretched into mid-December. The accelerated work was part of the T’s ongoing $8 billion, 5-year capital investment program, which focuses investments on core infrastructure with the goal of improving the safety and reliability of the MBTA.

The closures allowed the MBTA to accelerate work that will result in completing work on the Orange Line 11 months sooner than originally scheduled. On the Red Line, accelerated work will result in completing work at Park Street 4 months sooner than planned and at Downtown Crossing nearly 1 year earlier than planned.

During those 10 closures, the MBTA was able to replace more than 4,100 feet of track at core stations on the Orange and Red Lines. In some cases, the station track that was replaced was over 30 years old. Work during those 10 weekends also included cleaning, painting, stairway replacement, tactile strip replacement, station repairs, and lighting upgrades.  

Specifically on the Orange Line, the MBTA was able to replace more than 2,378 feet of station track at Haymarket, State, and Downtown Crossing.

Additional Orange Line work included:

  • Approximately 333,000 square feet of cleaning and 405,000 square feet of painting at Chinatown, Downtown Crossing, State, and Haymarket;
  • Replacing approximately 1,600 linear feet of tactile strips;
  • Leak repairs, station repairs, and wayfinding signage replacement.

On the Red Line, over 1,750 feet of track was replaced at Downtown Crossing and Park Street.

Additional Red Line work included:

  • Cleaning and painting approximately 1,200 linear feet at Park Street;
  • Approximately 84,000 square feet of cleaning and 69,000 square feet of painting at Downtown Crossing;
  • Repairing and replacing 8 stairways;
  • Replacing 2,900 feet of tactile strips at Park Street and Downtown Crossing; 
  • Installing over 1,600 linear feet of new light fixtures;
  • Leak repairs, station repairs, and wayfinding signage replacement at Downtown Crossing.

Beyond the work listed above, the MBTA was also able to use these weekend diversions to perform work including: 

  • Track and power maintenance between stations, including third rail insulators and connections;
  • Tunnel debris clean-up, which will reduce the risk of nuisance smoke and fire;
  • Detailed inspections and surveys of tunnel infrastructure for future repairs and long-term investments;
  • Station repairs and maintenance to platforms, escalators, elevators, stairs, and fare equipment.

2020 Diversion

During the upcoming Orange Line diversions, customers heading northbound are asked to take the Orange Line to Back Bay, transfer to the Green Line at nearby Copley Station (0.2 miles), take the Green Line to Haymarket, board shuttle buses to Sullivan Square, and transfer to the Orange Line.  

Customers heading southbound are asked to take the Orange Line to Sullivan Square, board the shuttle to Haymarket, transfer to the Green Line, take the Green Line to Copley, and transfer to the Orange Line at nearby Back Bay (0.2 miles).  

Customers are also encouraged to utilize parallel Green Line service in the downtown area at North Station, Haymarket, Government Center, Park Street, Boylston, Arlington, and Copley Stations.
Customers with disabilities should see MBTA personnel in order to take an accessible van from Copley, Back Bay, Tufts Medical Center, and Haymarket to any Orange Line station without train service as well as Copley, Back Bay, Tufts Medical Center, and Sullivan Square. 

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