Red Line/Blue Line Connector Meeting Scheduled for Tomorrow

By Michael Coughlin Jr.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) is slated to hold a second meeting concerning the Red Line/Blue Line Connector tomorrow — October 19 — at the East Boston Public Library, beginning at 6 p.m.

The first public meeting was held on Monday, October 16 at the Russell Museum at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), where members of the project team provided an overview of the preliminary design plans for the project that would “connect the Red and Blue lines by extending the Blue Line beyond its current terminus at Bowdoin station through a new tunnel under Cambridge Street to Charles/MGH station on the Red Line.

About 75 residents and business owners attended the meeting on Monday night, and overall endorsed the project.  Fred Salvucci, Transportation Secretary in the Dukakis Administration praised the project saying, “I am delighted to see the project moving.” He did caution that closing the Bowdoin St. Station immediately at the start of construction for five years may cause hardships for some travelers and urged that this process be reviewed.

Today’s price tag for the project to construct the 2,000 feet of tunnel in a cut and cover process that must be built to connect Government Center on the Blue Line to the MGH Red Line station is pegged at $850M.  The construction project on Cambridge St. that has been talked about since 1990  is expected to last five years and open in the early 2030’s..  The tunnel is expected to be more than 40 feet below the street surface.

Like the meeting on Monday, the meeting in East Boston will also serve as an opportunity for the project team to hear comments from residents, answer questions, and more.

Earlier this month, on October 2, the MBTA submitted a Notice of Project Change (NPC) to the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act’s (MEPA) Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA).

According to this NPC document, the reason for the submission was due to the time elapsed and “design refinements” that have taken place since the draft environmental impact report (DEIR) was filed back in 2010.

In addition to outlining the project change, providing information on plans for public outreach, and more, the document also outlines project alternatives that come from a 2010 Definitions of Alternatives Report, the 2010 DEIR, and a 2021 Concept Design Report.

Per the document, the preferred build alternative would extend the Blue Line from Bowdoin Station to Charles/MGH station but would eliminate operations at Bowdoin, citing “the current operational constraints of Bowdoin station, platform length, and loop track configuration.”

Further, the preferred alternative would include the construction of a new subsurface platform at Charles/MGH station to service the Blue Line and a two-track tunnel under Cambridge Street.

The document also outlines the preferred tunnel construction alternative, which is stated to be Cut and Cover (C&C). The method includes the “installation of an earth support system along the outside limits of the tunnel” and the “installation of lateral support structures as the tunnel excavation advances,” per the NPC document.

According to the NPC document, the advantages of this tunnel construction method include lower cost, shorter construction time, lower project risk, and more.

Other preferred alternatives discussed in the document include the station, which would place the platform close to the Charles/MGH station headhouse. “This option provides customers with the clearest path of travel between the Red and Blue platforms as well an entrance within the future MGH Clinical building.”

The preferred storage track alternative was discussed in the document briefly; however, the preferred alternative is slated for more evaluation and to be decided during the design phase.

Finally, the preferred build alternative section of the document mentions that tracks west of the new Blue Line station would have to be built to accommodate a “safe stopping distance beyond the platform.”

It should be noted that the document identifies that those tracks would not be used to store vehicles or equipment.

Currently, the NPC is open for review and public comments. The comment period is scheduled to run until October 31.

If you are interested in learning more about the project, viewing the NPC document, or more in advance of tomorrow’s meeting, you can visit

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