BOSTON — The entire Orange Line will shut down later this month to allow for “critical track maintenance,” officials announced Wednesday.
Starting at 9 p.m. on Aug. 19, the Orange Line will be closed through Sept. 18, Gov. Charlie Baker and MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said during a news conference at Wellington Station. It’s expected to reopen to riders on Monday, Sept. 19.
“The move may be frustrating but will offer long-term benefits,” Baker stated.
Poftak said the shutdown will eliminate five years worth of diversions, prevent slow-downs in the future, and create faster and safer trips for riders.
Thousands of feet of rail will be upgraded, rail ties will be replaced, and signals will be modernized during the work period.
“This is an unprecedented service diversion,” Poftak said. “It’s going to replace years of weekend and overnight diversions.”
The MBTA Board of Directors authorized a $37 million contract with Yankee Line Inc. to provide up to 160 shuttle buses during peak commuting hours.
The Orange Line provides service to hundreds of thousands of people each day. Poftak urged riders to utilize the Commuter Rail during the shutdown.
Baker noted that all new Orange Line trains will be in use when service resumes.
This announcement comes nearly a week after the MBTA postponed planned track and signal work on the Orange Line. Rail service was set to be diverted between Oak Grove and the Wellington stop between July 29 and Aug. 28.
“While the MBTA is pausing this work for now, the MBTA is exploring additional opportunities to accelerate work on the Orange Line, and will keep riders updated,” an MBTA spokesperson said July 27.
In May, the Federal Transit Administration issued a report highlighting four major safety concerns for the MBTA to address. That came a little over a month after a man was dragged to his death by a Red Line train leaving Broadway Station.
But the agency continues to be plagued by problems, including a runaway Red Line train in May and an Orange Line fire last month that sent hundreds of passengers scrambling to safety through smashed windows to escape.
The FTA ordered a “safety standdown” of the MBTA last week in response to Red Line trains rolling away on their own. Workers were required to take part in briefings where they reviewed and discussed recent incidents involving runaway trains.
Poftak said the shutdown will help the MBTA make “significant progress” in meeting FTA improvement orders.
Boston 25 Investigates first reported the expected closure of the Orange Line on Tuesday.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.
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