Governor Baker, along with MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak and Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack announced on September 1 the completion of 28 days of accelerated work on the E branch of the Green Line.
The work is part of the MBTA’s $8 billion capital investment to “build a better T,” Poftak said, and also thanked the Fenway Alliance for their work on this project.
The plan was intended to “quicken the pace of the work on the MBTA,” he said, and also took advantage of lower ridership due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The acceleration of work allowed the MBTA to avoid a year’s worth of weekend and nighttime shutdowns in service to complete the work.
In August, the E branch of the Green Line was replaced with shuttle buses for 28 days, and service was increased on the 39 bus to allow the work to be completed faster, he said.
The work consisted of the replacement of more than three miles of track that was over 30 years old and “at the end of its service life,” Poftak said. Additionally, seven road crossings and five individual pedestrian track crossings were upgraded, and station improvements, such as power washing and vegetation management, were made to E branch stops. Work was also completed on the C branch, as well as two nine day diversions on the D branch, he said.
Governor Charlie Baker gave his press conference from the Museum of Fine Arts stop on the E branch, where he got to see upgrades made to the station.
“These upgrades replace thousands of feet of track, upgraded intersections, and removed thousands of feet of what we call slow zones,” Baker said. He said that the shutdowns have saved the MBTA 30 percent on construction costs compared to having to set up and break down of night and weekend work.
“That means these improvements will give green line riders faster and more reliable service,” Baker said. “By shutting down parts of the system for longer periods, the T obviously has the ability to stage differently and make progress much more quickly.”
He said the work was done at a time before students returned to the city, which he said “dramatically enhances the quality of work done and limits the impact and disruption. The transportation landscape obviously looks a lot different than it did in March, but we’re still committed to improving the core infrastructure of the T to make the system more reliable and safer,” he said.
Baker said that the five year, $8 billion capital investment plan includes a “record level of spending and updates” for the T system.
“The T and its team have continued to work enormously hard through this whole period beginning in March to make sure they were there to serve the riders who rely on the system,” Baker said. “They dramatically enhanced their cleaning protocols, created a new rider safe program campaign, and continue, day after day, to make sure people have the system they need to take them where they need to go.”
Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said that these improvements, among others, will “dig the T out of its maintenance and backlog” and that the “MBTA has transformed itself into an agency that is capable of delivering.”
This work has minimized passenger disruption and managed closures of weekday service, she said.
“After we experienced the damage to the Red Line, we owed our passengers and the people of Massachusetts a faster and more efficient plan for fixing the T,” she said.
Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) director Matthew Teitelbaum said that the museum has been in its current location since 1909.
“The T has gone in front of us for more thank 80 years,” he said. “We have been connected all that time. We are a public institution serving the public; the T is a public amenity serving the public. We both do more than that—we create community through connectedness.”
Teitelbaum said he looks forward to the reopening of the museum in the near future and having museum staff use the T to return to work.
“In our root cause, we do what all great public institutions must do, and that is create community, connectedness, and make people feel as though they belong together regardless of their background,” Teitelbaum said.