‘Smooth’ start to Monday commute during MBTA’s Orange Line shutdown, Boston mayor says


The first true test of the MBTA’s Orange Line shutdown began Monday as morning commuters navigated new transportation options for the 30-day closure.The 11 miles of the Orange Line, from the Oak Grove to Forest Hills stations, closed Friday night and are scheduled to remain closed until 5 a.m. on Sept. 19. Planned projects include track repairs to eliminate slowdowns, upgrading signals, replacing infrastructure and repairs or upgrades at various stations as part of what the MBTA calls major revitalization and safety work on the Orange Line. MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak helped direct riders to Orange Line alternatives early Monday and passed out Charlie Card at Forest Hills Station.”I anticipate we’ll face some challenges and probably learn something about where there’s going to be traffic issues and holdups, and we’ll get better as we go,” Poftak said. A fleet of 200 buses is being used to shuttle Orange Line riders to their destinations during the next month.Boston Mayor Michelle Wu boarded a shuttle at Forest Hills Station in Jamaica Plain to start her commute to Government Center. “It went pretty smoothly. It was a little bit longer than a usual commute, but no real bottlenecks or traffic along the way — buses and trains coming very shortly at each stop we were getting on and off at. Overall, very hopeful. It seems like that much of the planning and all of the details we discussed have been implemented and so far, so good.”However, Wu said the real test for Boston would be when Boston Public Schools resume classes in September. Officials say they can squeeze work that would have normally taken five years into the monthlong work period.The Orange Line provides about 101,000 trips each day, so the impact of the closure on commuters is expected to be major.The start of unprecedented closure ushered in a complicated dance of diversions and alternatives that Boston officials have called a “transportation emergency.” “Things are looking pretty smooth throughout the roadways. We’re keeping an eye on a couple of key spots. Leverett Circle as one of the big ones that we’ve been mentioning for a week now, but also Charles Circle over at Sullivan Square. Those are the real hot spots that we’re going to be looking at throughout the morning to see if there’s adjustments that we need to make,” Massachusetts State Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver said.Some streets are closed or effectively cut in half to create dedicated lanes for the shuttle buses. Curbside loading areas were also designated for the buses.State Street between Congress and Washington streets, Dartmouth Street between St. James and Boylston streets and one side of Washington Street between Arborway and Williams Street will be closed to traffic to make a path for the buses.Officials have said that making a path for the buses will have a ripple effect throughout the region, according to projections made by engineers who model traffic for MassDOT. Motorists have been warned to expect heavy traffic increases, especially on roadways along the shuttle bus routes. Commuter Rail train frequency has been increased to accommodate anticipated changes to travel patterns. Riders can also use the Commuter Rail in Zones 1, 1A and 2 for free by showing a CharlieCard or CharlieTicket. As an alternative, Boston is offering a free 30-day pass to ride Bluebikes during the shutdown. Starting Monday, parts of the MBTA Green Line will also be closed for 28 days. The Green Line shutdown from the Union Square to Government Center stations will allow the MBTA to perform the final-phase construction work necessary to open the Medford Branch, which is now anticipated to open in late November.Shuttle buses will also be offered to replace Green Line service.The city of Boston and the MBTA announced the following number for a new MBTA Call Center: 617-222-3200.Officials said the “impetus” for the Orange Line shutdown was a safety review by the Federal Transit Administration. The FTA has been digging into the MBTA’s record since May after a man was dragged to death on the Red Line in April. A final report from the federal agency is expected to be released within the next few weeks.

The first true test of the MBTA’s Orange Line shutdown began Monday as morning commuters navigated new transportation options for the 30-day closure.

The 11 miles of the Orange Line, from the Oak Grove to Forest Hills stations, closed Friday night and are scheduled to remain closed until 5 a.m. on Sept. 19.

Planned projects include track repairs to eliminate slowdowns, upgrading signals, replacing infrastructure and repairs or upgrades at various stations as part of what the MBTA calls major revitalization and safety work on the Orange Line.

MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak helped direct riders to Orange Line alternatives early Monday and passed out Charlie Card at Forest Hills Station.

“I anticipate we’ll face some challenges and probably learn something about where there’s going to be traffic issues and holdups, and we’ll get better as we go,” Poftak said.

A fleet of 200 buses is being used to shuttle Orange Line riders to their destinations during the next month.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu boarded a shuttle at Forest Hills Station in Jamaica Plain to start her commute to Government Center.

“It went pretty smoothly. It was a little bit longer than a usual commute, but no real bottlenecks or traffic along the way — buses and trains coming very shortly at each stop we were getting on and off at. Overall, very hopeful. It seems like that much of the planning and all of the details we discussed have been implemented and so far, so good.”

However, Wu said the real test for Boston would be when Boston Public Schools resume classes in September.

Officials say they can squeeze work that would have normally taken five years into the monthlong work period.

The Orange Line provides about 101,000 trips each day, so the impact of the closure on commuters is expected to be major.

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The start of unprecedented closure ushered in a complicated dance of diversions and alternatives that Boston officials have called a “transportation emergency.”

“Things are looking pretty smooth throughout the roadways. We’re keeping an eye on a couple of key spots. Leverett Circle as one of the big ones that we’ve been mentioning for a week now, but also Charles Circle over at Sullivan Square. Those are the real hot spots that we’re going to be looking at throughout the morning to see if there’s adjustments that we need to make,” Massachusetts State Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver said.

Some streets are closed or effectively cut in half to create dedicated lanes for the shuttle buses. Curbside loading areas were also designated for the buses.

State Street between Congress and Washington streets, Dartmouth Street between St. James and Boylston streets and one side of Washington Street between Arborway and Williams Street will be closed to traffic to make a path for the buses.

Officials have said that making a path for the buses will have a ripple effect throughout the region, according to projections made by engineers who model traffic for MassDOT. Motorists have been warned to expect heavy traffic increases, especially on roadways along the shuttle bus routes.

Commuter Rail train frequency has been increased to accommodate anticipated changes to travel patterns. Riders can also use the Commuter Rail in Zones 1, 1A and 2 for free by showing a CharlieCard or CharlieTicket.

As an alternative, Boston is offering a free 30-day pass to ride Bluebikes during the shutdown.

Starting Monday, parts of the MBTA Green Line will also be closed for 28 days. The Green Line shutdown from the Union Square to Government Center stations will allow the MBTA to perform the final-phase construction work necessary to open the Medford Branch, which is now anticipated to open in late November.

Shuttle buses will also be offered to replace Green Line service.

The city of Boston and the MBTA announced the following number for a new MBTA Call Center: 617-222-3200.

Officials said the “impetus” for the Orange Line shutdown was a safety review by the Federal Transit Administration. The FTA has been digging into the MBTA’s record since May after a man was dragged to death on the Red Line in April. A final report from the federal agency is expected to be released within the next few weeks.



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