Last week Governor Charlie Baker used the Maverick MBTA station as the backdrop to his daily Covid-19 press briefing and to highlight the accelerated infrastructure work on the Blue Line that wrapped up Sunday.
Baker was joined by Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack, General Manager Steve Poftak, and other officials and toured the Blue Line work.
The project began on May 18 and the MBTA fully closed down the Blue Line from Airport to Bowdoin stations for 14 days and ran shuttle busses instead of train service until Sunday.
The goal was to allow for accelerated track and infrastructure work to take place while ridership and traffic is at an all time low due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The work was originally going to be spread out over a longer period of time and only on weekends.
“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 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 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 will use is much lower than it is likely to be by the fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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 Secretary 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.”
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 twenty passengers.
“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 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. This expedited critical track and tunnel infrastructure work leads to the upgrades our riders deserve – faster trains, shorter travel times, and more reliable service.”
Work included 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 fifty-one seconds between Airport and Maverick); crews worked to fix the harbor tunnel leak with drainage work between Maverick and Aquarium that will reduce water-/leak-related service delays, improving reliability; as well as fire standpipe relocation between Maverick and Aquarium.
“I had the unique opportunity to tour the Blue Line tunnel in East Boston and see the work being done,” said Rep. Adrian Madaro. “From repairing a tunnel first built in the early 1900’s to replacing over 2200 feet of track, this critical infrastructure project will allow for increased train speeds, shorter travel times, and a more reliable schedule. I thank the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority for organizing this tour and all the workers for their incredible efforts.”