Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito and Transit Officials Provide Update on MBTA Reforms and Winter Resiliency Upgrades
$18.5 million second phase to upgrade 9.9 miles of exposed T infrastructure along Red Line South
BRAINTREE – Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack today visited the MBTA’s Caddigan Yard near the Braintree MBTA stop as work commences this weekend on the second phase of Red Line winter resiliency upgrades and as the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) continues to make improvement reforms to service, accountability and reliability for taxpayers and riders.
“The MBTA continues to improve its infrastructure and strengthen its ability to perform for riders during severe weather by investing in the core system,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This resiliency work and the Fiscal and Management Control Board’s efforts to deliver meaningful reforms, transparency and cost-effectiveness, will ultimately mean a more accountable and reliable transit system for the Commonwealth’s commuters and taxpayers.”
The $18.5 million resiliency contract was awarded in July by the FMCB to Barletta Heavy Division, Inc., and will implement upgrades along 9.9 miles of the Red Line’s Braintree and Ashmont Lines, including the replacement of all third rail and heating systems, track and tie renewals, signals, track structure and conduit installations.
“These investments in preparation for another New England winter are important to the riders who depend on the system every day to get to and from their jobs and school,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Since historic snowfall and temperatures hampered the MBTA last year, leaders at the T have focused on the reforms and investments in the core system to ensure greater reliability.”
The Governor, Lt. Governor and Secretary were joined by MBTA General Manager Brian Shortsleeve, Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Gonneville and Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan, who was appointed to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s (MassDOT) new Board of Directors when it was expanded as a result of reform legislation filed and signed by Governor Baker last year.
“The MBTA’s goals continue to be the safety of our passengers and the ability to provide reliable service to those customers, especially during severe weather,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “The next phase of winter resiliency work reflects the type of investments we are making, and that need to be made, in order to improve the system in the short and long term.”
The $83 million MBTA Winter Resiliency Plan announced by the Baker-Polito Administration in 2015 focused on infrastructure, equipment, and operations improvements on the Red Line and Orange Line to more effectively mitigate the frequency, length and magnitude of system disruptions to public transit during severe weather. The first phase, implemented last year, included third rail and rail heater improvements along 13.6 miles of the Red Line from the Andrew Station portal to Quincy Adams, while the second phase which began this summer and will continue through December completes the improvements along the entire length of the Red Line.
“This work is key to keeping the system operating no matter what challenges Mother Nature throws at us,” said MBTA General Manager Brian Shortsleeve. “In addition, investments have already been made to secure specialized snow removal equipment to increase our snow removal capacity and ensure passenger vehicles operate on schedule.”
“These Red Line improvements underline the importance of reliability for our public transit system” said Braintree Mayor Joseph C. Sullivan, member of the Mass DOT Board. “When people have confidence in the dependability of our system, ridership will grow. That’s a good thing.”
To accommodate the winter resiliency work, buses will replace train service two weekends this month on the Braintree Branch:
More dates will be announced for weekend dates from October through November.
Governor Baker appointed the FMCB in 2015 to oversee the system’s operations and finances and increased the Commonwealth's additional assistance payments to the MBTA's operating and capital budgets to $187 million, a 50% increase over Fiscal Year 2015. The FMCB, MassDOT and MBTA reduced the Fiscal Year 2016 budget deficit from $170 million to $86 million and have cut the projected Fiscal Year 2017 budget deficit by 50%. Also in Fiscal Year 2016, MBTA recorded its lowest level of operating expense growth in more than 15 years through cost control, increased own-source revenues by more than $10 million, and reduced operator absenteeism by nearly 20% and weekday dropped bus trips by over 30%. The MBTA is the fifth-largest transit agency in the U.S., serving over 1 million riders a day.