25 Jun 19
Governor Charlie baker today announced a plan to speed up repairs and improvements on the MBTA that will include night and weekend track closures and increased inspections to head off equipment failures, among other steps.
Baker announced the plan Tuesday at the Wellington MBTA yard in Medford.
The five part approach will include developing a more aggressive schedule of evening and weekend closures on the system to facilitate repairs, an increased equipment inspection schedule, negotiations with manufacturers for quicker access to replacement equipment, and a dedicated team at the MBTA to push the repair agenda.
Baker’s office also said it would seek changes in state law in order to allow other steps such “as flexible procurement and project delivery approaches,” as the agency proceeds with his $8 Billion capital improvement plan.
“This acceleration plan will allow the T to continue its investments at a faster pace, with greater focus on service improvements to provide a safe, reliable means of transportation that supports our economy, and gets people where they need to go.” said Baker in a release about the plan.
The push to improve the pace off improvements comes two weeks after a derailment on the Red Line caused a major disruption on the morning commute and damaged track and signal equipment that will take the full summer to repair.
The T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board yesterday announced formation of an outside safety review panel with members including former Obama administration Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood as well as past Federal Transit Administration acting chief Carolyn Flowers and former New York City Transit head Carmen Bianco to look into all of the T’s operational safety procedures.
The safety review, and Baker’s accelerated repair program come after a Red Line train car jumped the track June 11 on the Braintree line at the JFK/UMass station and caused lasting damage to infrastructure. That failure came just a few days after a Green Line trolley going too fast derailed and injured 11 people on board.
Five in-service trains have gone off the rails this year, and 13 in the past two years.
The following projects are among the lines subject to repair and off-hours service diversions:
Green Line D Branch (select weekends between August and September): for track renewal and signal upgrades;
Green Line C Branch (weekends between June and August): for maintenance crews, and construction contractors to work on roadway grade crossings, tracks and switches;
Orange Line (weeknights ongoing through August): for capital maintenance and track renewal between Wellington and Oak Grove by contractors and MBTA forces;
Rockport Commuter Rail Line (bridge closure through June): to facilitate replacement of the Gloucester Drawbridge;
Green Line D Branch (weeknights through December): for track renewal and signal upgrades;
Orange Line (weekends during August and September): for capital maintenance and track renewal along the Southwest Corridor of the Orange Line;
Fitchburg and Lowell Commuter Rail Lines (weekends through September): in support of the Green Line Extension project;
Needham Commuter Rail Line (weekends during August and September): to support the Positive Train Control project.
· Additionally, Baker said the the T will begin to map out an even more aggressive schedule of shutdowns for the 2020 construction season by building expanded evening and weekend work windows into upcoming contracts.
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