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Baker-Polito Administration Highlights Accelerated Blue Line Work

Posted on May 27, 2020

Today, Governor Charlie Baker, Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack, General Manager Steve Poftak, and other officials toured ongoing accelerated infrastructure work taking place on the Blue Line at Maverick Station. A full closure of the Blue Line between Bowdoin and Airport Stations began Monday, May 18, with shuttle buses replacing service for 14 consecutive days, including both weekdays and weekends, through the end of service on Sunday, May 31.

“This Blue Line work is part of our administration’s plan to invest $8 billion in a safer and more reliable MBTA by replacing over 400 cars across the Red and Orange Lines, modernizing stations, and upgrading track, signal, and other key infrastructure across the system,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “These infrastructure upgrades on the Blue Line, including important flood resilience work within the harbor tunnel, will provide faster, more reliable service for travelers and commuters.”

“This core infrastructure Blue Line work is part of the Baker-Polito Administration’s $8 billion plan to repair, upgrade, and modernize the MBTA system, to ensure safe and reliable service,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “While we continue to urge the public to only make essential trips during the pandemic, the T is moving ahead with capital projects and continuing to plan for more opportunities to get work done faster in 2020.”

“The suspension of Blue Line service has allowed us to make incredible progress as workers maximize the benefits of having unencumbered access to stations, track, and tunnel areas,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “Our primary focus, as always, is on safety, especially during the pandemic and the start of Phase 1 of the Commonwealth’s Reopening Plan. We continue to promote social distancing and require face coverings. While we know these diversions can be an inconvenience in the short-term, we appreciate the understanding of our riders as we expedite critical track and tunnel infrastructure work that leads to the upgrades our riders deserve – faster trains, shorter travel times, and more reliable service.”

This work comes as part of the MBTA’s plan to quicken the pace of infrastructure projects in 2020 and the MBTA is assessing whether other projects can be further accelerated. This Blue Line work was previously scheduled to be accomplished through a series of weekend diversions later this year, and doing the work now allows its completion at a time when both transit ridership and traffic on the roadways that shuttle buses use is much lower than it is likely to be by the fall. 

In compliance with the Commonwealth’s Reopening Massachusetts Report, riders are also reminded that face coverings are required while onboard shuttle buses. Additionally, in an effort to promote social distancing and protect the health and safety of MBTA riders and bus operators, ridership on shuttle buses is limited to 20 passengers. The MBTA is also operating additional shuttle buses than originally planned with a robust fleet of shuttles on standby to accommodate ridership demands as needed.

In an effort to provide additional social distancing measures as well as ease crowding onboard both area bus routes and the Blue Line, the MBTA announced earlier this month that Zone 1A fares will temporarily be accepted at Lynn Commuter Rail Station on the Newburyport/Rockport Line through May 31. This temporary Zone 1A fare provides another travel option for riders that typically transfer to the Blue Line at Wonderland Station and additional North Shore customers affected by the temporary Blue Line shutdown who travel to and from Downtown Boston.

Blue Line construction is part of the MBTA’s $8 billion Building a Better T program to replace subway fleets, modernize stations, and upgrade tracks, signals, and switches. In 2019, the MBTA executed a plan to expedite projects for customers, delivering projects 2.2 years faster than originally planned across the Red, Orange, and Green Lines. Building off of this accelerated work, the MBTA launched its 2020 Infrastructure Acceleration Plan in February 2020 aimed at improving service, safety, and reliability on faster timelines through temporary shutdowns and diversions in service for several subway lines and the Commuter Rail. The 2020 Plan will deliver projects 8 years faster than originally planned, and will result in track replacement, upgraded intersections, and station improvements.  

More Information about The Work

Work accomplished during this 14-day shutdown builds off of track replacement work that took place at Bowdoin during last fall’s weekend diversions as part of the 2019 capital acceleration plan. This current work includes: 

  • The installation of a new truck pad near Airport Station;
  • Replacing 2,200 feet of track along the Blue Line that will remove a long-standing speed restriction between Maverick and Aquarium, effectively reducing trip times by up to 51 seconds between Airport and Maverick (1 way);
  • Harbor tunnel leak mitigation and drainage work between Maverick and Aquarium that will reduce water-/leak-related service delays, improving reliability;
  • Fire standpipe relocation between Maverick and Aquarium. 

Accomplishing this work during 14 consecutive days allows this work to be finished over 2 months sooner than previously planned. Sections of track between Bowdoin and Airport are also currently being scheduled to close in August 2020 for additional work on harbor tunnel improvements.

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. 

More Information

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