Friday, Aug. 19, 7 a.m.
An unprecedented 30-day shutdown of the MBTA’s Orange Line begins Friday night as commuters brace for major travel changes across the region.
The closure of the heavily-traveled subway line begins at 9 p.m. and lasts through Sept. 18. This disruption in service will force thousands upon thousands of people who rely on the subway service each day to find a new way to travel in and around Boston.
During the monthlong closure, MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak says crews will work to complete five years worth of upgrades including track replacement and upgraded signal systems.
Transportation officials have warned the public that traffic congestion on roads across the region will likely be nightmarish throughout the duration of the shutdown. They are forecasting gridlock traffic for anyone who takes to the roadways as an alternative travel option during the shutdown.
MassDOT shared a map of the areas that are expected to see the most added congestion, and it’s bad news for commuters who live in the communities of Medford, Malden, Everett, Revere, Chelsea, Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, and Somerville.
“If possible, avoid the region altogether until the diversion period has ended,” Massachusetts State Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver earlier this week
During the Orange Line closure, the MBTA will offer free Yankee shuttle buses between Oak Grove and Haymarket/Government Center and between Forest Hills and Back Bay/Copley.
The shutdown could cut some roadway capacity in half due to additional space needed for the fleet of shuttle buses that be rolling down streets.
Anticipating an uptick in traffic among pedestrians and cyclists, Gulliver urged vulnerable road users to beware of the shuttle buses’ “different turning radiuses.”
In addition to the shuttle buses, there are a number of alternate forms of transportation available for Orange Line riders including the commuter rail, Bluebikes, existing bus and subway services, and adopting a work-from-home schedule if possible.
In addition to the Orange Line being closed, Green Line service north of Government Center will similarly be offline and replaced by shuttle buses for four weeks between August and September.
Boston has created two transit hubs to help commuter travel between the Orange Line and Green Line using shuttle buses.
The hubs are located in Copley Square and Government Center since those stations are expected to see the highest volume commuters using shuttle service, according to city officials.
Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Boston’s chief of streets, said Thursday that the city has set aside “significant” curb space to allow for shuttle bus loading.
Bus lanes have been added on the Gillmore Bridge between Cambridge and Charlestown, Rutherford Avenue, and in Sullivan Square.
Several streets in Boston will be closed to general traffic to allow shuttle operations including State Street between Congress Street and Washington Street, Dartmouth Street between St. James Street and Boylston Street, and Washington Street (northbound-only) between Arborway and Williams Street.
The Orange Line provides about 101,000 trips each day, with ridership about 50 percent of what it was prior to the pandemic.
A new MBTA call center has been set up and commuters can call 617-222-3200 for assistance.
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