Narrow tracks on MBTA’s $2.3B Green Line Extension under investigation

The MBTA has slowed journey to a crawl on its model new $2.3 billion Green Line Extension after discovering the tracks on stretches of the brand new line are too slender.

The velocity in some spots alongside the affected strains, which carry service to Union Square in Somerville and Tufts-Medford, has dropped to three miles per hour, based on the T’s gradual zone dashboard.

T spokesman Joe Pesaturo mentioned monitor inspectors carried out a “regularly scheduled” scan of the Green Line Extension tracks and located areas the place the width between the rails “was slightly out of the limits of the regular track standards.”

The tracks had been constructed and opened beneath the Baker administration, Pesaturo mentioned, including “the track gauge has always been narrow, but up until recently, did not require mitigation.”

“The T has been conducting regular inspections and, in the past three months, has detected areas where the track condition has progressed to the point of requiring speed restrictions to ensure the safety of riders and crew,” Pesaturo mentioned in a press release. “The MBTA is working to determine the cause of these aberrations in the track gauge.”

The mission’s lead contractor, GLX Constructors, is answerable for correcting the issues, Pesaturo mentioned, “and they will continue to perform the necessary work during overnight periods on the Medford branch and during days this week on the Union branch, which is currently closed to accommodate the Squires bridge project.”

Implementation of the gradual zones was first reported by the Boston Globe.

Revelation of the issues is “flat out unacceptable for the people, the riders of Boston,” mentioned Seth Gadbois, a workers legal professional for the Conservation Law Foundation. The group fought for many years to get the Green Line Extension constructed, initially securing the mission as situation in 1990 for the Big Dig, Boston’s Central Artery Project.

“It’s not just the daily commuters who are affected by things like this,” he informed the Herald. “It’s impacting anyone’s ability to go and do what anybody should do with the train; go to other places, explore and visit people in other parts of the city.”

Medford’s Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn echoed the frustration, solely studying in regards to the subject on Wednesday.

“There has been no communication from the MBTA on this and that is frustrating,” she mentioned in an electronic mail to the Herald. “I hope that the MBTA has a plan to address these issues that prioritizes riders and provides some sort of alternate transit option.”

The Medford department of the Green Line extension opened with nice fanfare simply final December. The Union Square department opened months earlier than, in March 2022.

State Rep. Mike Connolly, whose district contains the East Somerville and Union Square stations, mentioned the extension’s woes are “truly outrageous.” He mentioned Cambridge and Somerville residents are “extraordinarily frustrated” with each the struggles on the Red Line and now the Green Line.

“I’m hoping that there will be real transparency about what’s going on,” he informed the Herald. “That’s my message to the T is, first and foremost, be honest with us about all the problems, answer all the questions.”

Problems with monitor situation, upkeep, and alignment on the T have been on the forefront lately.

A pair of experiences launched earlier this month discovered employees answerable for monitor inspections within the transit company’s Maintenance of Way division had “inadequate training.” Officials detailed deficiencies within the monitor inspection course of, together with inconsistencies in documentation and oversight stretching again years.

In a press release Wednesday, MBTA General Manager Phillip Eng didn’t tackle the reason for the slender tracks. Instead, he mentioned the MBTA has, “significant work to accomplish, not only to rebuild public trust as we remove speed restrictions but also to rebuild our workforce and reorganize our leadership team.”

He continued, “the MBTA is in the process of safely performing as much work as possible during diversions, overnights, and weekends to improve our riders’ experience with safe, timely, reliable, and frequent trips.”

The slender tracks usually are not the primary subject to emerge on the Green Line Extension.

In August, the contractor for the $2.3 billion mission sued its engineering agency, claiming defective designs led to greater than $35 million in value overruns.

That lawsuit, pitting the contractor GLX Constructors towards engineering agency STV Incorporated, cites 10 separate cases the place design drawings had been “replete with errors and omissions,” requiring corrections that resulted in “costly overruns.”

Many of these cases relate to retaining wall design at numerous factors within the mission and don’t reference monitor work or width.

GLX Constructors is an unincorporated entity consisting of Fluor Enterprises Inc., The Middlesex Corporation, Herzog Contracting Corp. and Balfour Beatty Infrastructure, Inc., which entered right into a teaming settlement with STV Incorporated in January 2017, based on the lawsuit.

For its half, STV declined remark Wednesday, stating that they don’t seem to be the mission’s spokesperson and that the MBTA is.

Somerville Mayor Katjana Ballantyne, in an electronic mail to the Herald on Wednesday, hinted that the invention of the defective GLX tracks is just not all too stunning, because the state has uncared for the MBTA “for decades,” leading to a “chronically underfunded” public transit authority.

The Red and Orange strains, susceptible to gradual zones, additionally run by Somerville.

“If we want the world-class transit system that our region needs and deserves,” Ballantyne mentioned, “we must invest not just in the occasional big ticket projects but in the day-to-day jobs and work that keep the system safe, on time, inspected, and properly maintained.”

Medford’s Lungo-Koehn fearful that the most recent troubles for the transit company will additional erode belief within the system.

“What’s particularly troubling with these gradual zones is that it’s decreasing reliance on public transportation, including extra vehicles on our roads and eroding the general public’s belief in equitable transportation entry. We’re doing every thing we will on the municipal degree to cut back visitors congestion, restrict the usage of vehicles and promote inexperienced transportation choices, however a simpler and time saving commute on the inexperienced line is what our neighborhood actually wants.

— City Editor Todd Prussman contributed