The MBTA has completed nearly 60% of planned work during the Orange Line shutdown, removed two of the six speed restrictions and is on track to resume service by Sept. 19.
The update came Tuesday at Community College station, one of four access points for work throughout the system, where Gov. Charlie Baker was on hand to observe crews replace and affix so-called cologne eggs to the track, which officials say optimize track performance.
“They’re basically designed to limit vibrations in particular areas,” Baker said.
Baker said crews will also replace upward of 2,500 railroad ties and about 6,000 feet of track along that stretch during the 30-day service disruption.
He also told reporters he has no plans to strip the Department of Public Utilities of its state safety oversight role of the MBTA, following a damning federal report that questioned its ability to effectively handle the job. Lawmakers have planned a legislative hearing on DPU’s role, among other things, in October.
“Obviously, they have work to do,” Baker said, adding that the DPU has already started hiring and expanding its footprint.
MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said special track work completed at Jackson Square allowed for the removal of a second speed restriction. The first was lifted between State Street and Downtown Crossing.
Since last Friday, crossovers have been replaced at Forest Hills and Ruggles stations, which will improve use and reliability of the system, he said.
Overall, Poftak said crews have completed 47% of planned rail replacement, 65% of track replacement, 91% of special track work, 37%, or 124 of 400, planned cologne egg upgrades and 55% of signal system upgrades at Oak Grove and Malden Center stations.
MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesaturo said a bulk of the track and signal work planned for the Orange Line shutdown is being performed by three major outside contractors — Barletta Heavy Division, the Middlesex Corporation and Alstom — at an approximate cost of $36.9 million.
Two contracts, worth a total of $23.4 million, were awarded to Barletta for track and signal upgrades at Wellington and signal work at Oak Grove and Malden.
A $13 million contract was awarded to Middlesex Corporation for emergency track and infrastructure repairs to remove slow zones, Pesaturo said.
Pesaturo also said MBTA crews are working alongside those from outside contractors.
“There are 150 to 175 people working across the system at any given time,” he said. “There are construction activities 24/7. Actual staffing, shifts and work schedules depend upon individual projects, locations and the nature of the work.”
In addition, Poftak said 58 new Orange Line cars — out of 152 ordered — are available for service, as part of an approximately $1 billion contract with Chinese firm CRRC.
The T is also contracting with A Yankee Line, Inc. for alternative shuttle bus service, at a cost of $37 million, which Poftak said is continuously being monitored, particularly during a busy post-Labor Day week where students are also returning to school.
Poftak said the T continues to look into partial shutdowns on other subway lines, but said another full shutdown, akin to the one on the Orange Line, is not “on the drawing board” right now.
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