Transportation Officials Warn Commuters Ahead Of Orange Line Shutdown

Photo: Karyn Regal (WBZ)

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Speaking at a press conference at MBTA headquarters Monday, Massachusetts transportation officials warned commuters to expect severe congestion on roadways in Greater Boston due to the upcoming MBTA Orange Line shutdown.

The planned shutdown is scheduled to begin Friday and last until Monday, Sept. 19 to allow crews to work on track repairs and replacements prompted by the Federal Transit Administration, which is conducting a safety inspection of the T. Following a series of safety failures, including the dragging death of a man on a Red Line train in April, the FTA issued four directives to the MBTA to address long-neglected track repairs, complete safety certifications for all of its staff, better prevent runaway train incidents, and hire more dispatchers.

State officials are urging commuters to avoid driving if at all possible in an effort to reduce what is expected to be logjammed traffic all around the city.

"These shutdowns will have substantial, regional travel impacts beyond just transit users," said MassDOT State Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver during the press conference. He stressed that the shutdown will impact drivers, bikers, and pedestrians as "roadway capacity along the diversion route will be effectively cut in half in some areas."

Shuttle busses will make runs between Oak Grove and Haymarket/Government Center and Back Bay and Forest Hills stations. Temporary bus lanes are being installed around Copley Square and Government Center to accommodate the influx of the shuttle busses.

"I know that some transit users may be considering driving as an alternative to the shuttle busses. I assure you that is not a good option," said Gulliver.

City of Boston Chief of Streets Jascha Franklin-Hodge bluntly referred to the Orange Line shutdown as a "traffic emergency."

"By staying home, walking, biking, or taking transit, you’re leaving room on the roads for shuttle busses, for people who must drive, and for first responders," said Franklin-Hodge.

"I acknowledge that this closure will be disruptive, but people want and deserve safe and reliable service and we want to give it to them and this is a way for us to effectively invest in maintaining the system," said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak.

A full guide to getting around during the Orange Line closure is available on the MBTA's website.

WBZ's Karyn Regal (@KarynRegal) reports.

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