Trains are parked in Wellington Yard outside an Orange Line maintenance facility on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022. Photo by Chris Lisinski | State House News Service

The MBTA will venture into uncharted territory with a newly announced month-long shutdown of the Orange Line, and the unprecedented step might not be the last of its kind.

Baker administration officials kept the door open for additional large-scale closures when they announced plans Wednesday to shutter the entire Orange Line from one end to the other, starting Aug. 19 and running until Sept. 18.

MBTA officials in recent years have shut down branches of the Green Line from Kenmore to a western endpoint for maintenance and sizable chunks elsewhere on the network, but according to General Manager Steve Poftak, this will be the first time an entire line goes dark for this long.

“This is an unprecedented service diversion for the MBTA,” Poftak said. “We have never shut down an entire line in this way in order to make sweeping improvements, but we’re doing this because it’s the fastest, most efficient way to deliver the benefits to our customers.”

Other maintenance projects are on deck for this fall, including closures of stretches of the Green Line’s E Branch from Aug. 6 through Aug. 21 and its D Branch from Sept. 24 through Oct. 30. Those diversions will involve work to accelerate installation of anti-collision technology federal overseers first recommended more than a decade ago.

Another Green Line diversion is still in development. Poftak said its dates and scope are not yet final, but the work would focus on impacts of the Government Center garage demolition – where a collapse and column damage created service headaches for the T – as well as MBTA needs in the area.

Officials do not have plans in place for another end-to-end shutdown, but Poftak said Wednesday that might come at a later date.

“We reserve the right. I think this is something we’re going to work on in real time,” he said.

Their calculus expects that the upheaval caused by shifting tens of thousands of commuters to cars, buses, commuter rail or working from home will be well worth the long-overdue maintenance that workers can perform during those spans, particularly as the spotlight cast by the Federal Transit Administration’s ongoing investigation grows hotter.

The FTA’s safety management inspection served as the “impetus” for the upcoming 30-day Orange Line closure, Poftak said. In a batch of initial orders, federal overseers flagged delayed maintenance as a pressing issue for the agency, noting speed restrictions along portions of the Orange Line’s track.

MBTA Chief: ‘We Reserve the Right’ to Shut Down Other Lines

by State House News Service time to read: 2 min