Weekend station closures planned to help speed MBTA repairs

BOSTON (AP) — State transportation officials have signed off on weekend closures of key portions of subway lines in the fall to speed up desperately needed repairs to the aging Boston-area transit system.

The plan, approved Monday by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s control board, means disruptions in weekend travel for riders on the Red, Orange and Green Lines.

The plan includes closing eight Orange Line stations during six weekends in October and November, followed by several weekends of closures on the Red Line, including South Station. Shuttle buses will replace trains during those periods.

There won’t be any closures during the weekend of Thanksgiving and two weekends in December.

“We believe these temporary diversions are necessary to improve the system that has been neglected for decades,” Republican Gov. Charlie Baker said in a statement.

MBTA General Manager Steven Poftak said the aggressive plan will cause inconveniences in the short term but will be worth it in the end, shortening some timelines by as much as 11 months for certain projects.

He said the work — which includes replacing track on the Red and Orange lines — was previously scheduled to take place only during limited overnight hours.

Poftak said the station closures will also give T workers a chance to do other jobs around each station.

“In many cases that’s going to be inspecting tunnels, plugging leaks, washing the stations, cleaning debris in the tunnels — all the types of things we don’t often get a chance to do,” he said.

The improvements on the Green Line include the replacement of 7,000 feet (2,134 meters) of track. The weekend closures will allow the work to be completed five months earlier than initially planned — in December, 2019 instead of May, 2020.

On the Red Line, crews will replace 900 feet (274 meters) of track at the Park Street and Downtown Crossing stations. The work also includes installing new signs, adding 1,250 new lighting fixtures, and cleaning, painting, and repairing stairs and tiles.

On the Orange line, crews will replace 2,250 feet (686 meters) of track and clean and paint within Chinatown Station and put up new signs and clean, paint and repair stairs and tiles in the Downtown Crossing, Haymarket, and State stations.

The MBTA is also in the process of preparing an aggressive schedule of shutdowns for the 2020 construction season that may include weekday shutdowns in addition to a greater frequency of weekend shutdowns.

Details of the plan are anticipated to be released later this year.

To read the full MBTA report, click here.

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