The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority reopened service on the Orange Line early on Sept. 19 after an unprecedented, month-long shutdown of the entire branch for a badly needed overhaul. The embattled transit agency shut down the line, which serves hundreds of thousands of commuters across the Boston area, on Aug. 19 following a series of high-profile mishaps and a scathing report by the Federal Transportation Administration.
MBTA officials say the shutdown enabled the transit agency to cram five years worth of work into 30-day days, bringing “track and signal infrastructure into a state of good repair” while also addressing the “safety actions” the FTA has demanded.
“We’ve gotten the work done in thirty days and my hope is when they (passengers) come back they appreciate the product is better,” Steve Poftak, the MBTA’s general manager, told reporters.
Officials say the replacement of thousands of feet of worn out railway track will finally enable the transit agency to eliminate slow zones along the Orange Line, one of the issues the FTA called out in a recent report on the MBTA.
The MBTA's repair blitz, led by Barletta Heavy Division and Middlesex Corp. will lead to faster service at eight different stations, including Jackson Square, Stony Brook, State, Downtown Crossing, Tufts Medical Center and Back Bay, as well as two slow zones between Assembly and Wellington along Dana Bridge, according to an MBTA press release.
The transit agency shelled out more than $40 million to the two contractors for the Orange Line work, as well as $37 million for emergency buses provided under a contract with a A Yankee Line Inc.
During the Orange Line shutdown, contractors replaced 3,500 ft of track, 2,800 rail ties and 14,000 sq ft of rail.
Four hundred rail fasteners were installed to cut down on vibration and noise for riders, signals at Oak Grove and Malden Center stops were upgraded to digital from analog, while crews laid 48,000 feet of new signal cable, officials said.
In addition, the MBTA boosted the number of new Orange Line cars ready for service, having “readied” 72 new cars, up from the from 30 new cars available a month ago.
Meanwhile, the MBTA also reactivated Green Service between Union Square and Government Center.
The section of the line was shut down to ease the opening of the Medford Branch of the new Green Line Extension, while lane enabling demolition to resume on the Government Center garage, T officials said.