Gloucester Drawbridge Replacement Project: Rockport Commuter Rail Service Restoration Expected May 2022
Posted on December 23, 2021
Today the MBTA announced that single-track service over the Gloucester Drawbridge is expected to be restored by May 2022, allowing Commuter Rail service to resume to Gloucester and Rockport Stations.
While replacement construction continues, the disruption in service has provided an opportunity to accelerate other projects planned for the Rockport Line that would have required service interruptions later in 2022. Several intensive projects were launched that could only be accomplished with service suspended, and this extended suspension of train service allowed the MBTA to complete projects more efficiently. These projects include:
- The 100% replacement of more than 11,000 treated wood ties with plastic ties containing no preservative chemicals. The distance between Cleveland Street in Gloucester and Poole’s Lane in Rockport was completely rebuilt using a new type of tie that does not require preservative chemical. In addition to replacing more than 11,000 ties in this area, the rail was also treated to bring it within current neutral temperature standards in order to prevent track alignment issues in very hot weather. The track was also realigned both vertically and horizontally.
- Eleven 150-year-old “stacked stone” box culverts were removed and replaced with concrete pipe restoring water flows, ensuring they are ready for the predicted changes in weather patterns brought about by global warming. A twelfth culvert will be replaced in the early spring of 2022 (before service is restored) to complete the culvert that was deemed at risk.
- At Rockport switches and special track work beyond Poole’s Lane were renewed and brought up to current standards for reliable service.
- Gloucester and Rockport Stations were deep cleaned and repainted to refresh their appearance and improve the customer experience.
- Between Gloucester Station and the Drawbridge, a new interlocking was installed to replace a spring-powered switch that used outdated technology. The interlocking allows the train dispatcher located in the central dispatching office to control the track used by each train and allows the dispatcher to display signals to control the movement of trains through the area.
- The grade crossing at Maple Street in Gloucester was replaced.
Work to be completed includes the critically important project to remove loose rock from the ledges alongside the tracks by the Route 128 bridge. Other regular cyclical maintenance operations will also be scheduled to maximize the remaining time to the greatest benefit. This work has been approved and will be scheduled to take place before service resumes.
Shuttle buses will continue to serve Gloucester and Rockport Stations during the bridge closure, and the MBTA has the capacity to offer additional buses if ridership demand warrants it.
The MBTA appreciates customers’ patience as workers make important upgrades to infrastructure and improve safety and reliability for decades to come.