Governor Baker Visits MBTA Orange Line Construction During Shutdown

Photo: Courtesy of Charlie Baker (Twitter)

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Governor Charlie Baker visited construction crews on Tuesday as they worked on repairs of the MBTA Orange Line during its month-long shutdown.

Baker observed the track work at the Community College MBTA Station on Old Rutherford Avenue alongside Transportation Secretary Jamey Tesler, MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak, and other transportation officials.

The Orange Line shutdown began on Aug. 19 as part of the MBTA's response to a safety report from the Federal Transit Administration in June, which highlighted four issues the MBTA needed to address, including delayed track maintenance.

Orange Line service is scheduled to resume on Sept. 18. Speaking at a press conference at the construction site Tuesday, Steve Poftak said repair work on the line was 59% done.

"We remain cautiously confident about getting this work done and getting all this work done on time," Poftak said.

"There’s a lot of work to do, but I also believe they’re getting on it and getting at it," Baker said. "And as I said from the beginning, one of the things I welcomed from the FTA was that national point of view."

Last Wednesday, the FTA published a final safety report with 53 findings about the MBTA and the Department of Public Utilities, which is the designated state oversight agency. The 90-page report gave four more directives to the MBTA to fix major deficiencies in staffing, internal communications, safety management, and other problems, while also giving a directive to the DPU.

A state legislative committee will meet in October to determine the viability of the DPU's continued safety oversight of the MBTA.

The DPU has told WBZ NewsRadio it is looking for a new Director of Rail Safety and hiring inspectors with rail experience.

WBZ's Karyn Regal (@KarynRegal) reports.

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