Healey says no sign Baker knew of Green Line problems

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According to the governor, as far as she can tell, problems with the Green Line Extension project apparently known to high level former MBTA officials were not brought to the attention of her predecessor.

General Manager Phillip Eng revealed last week that MBTA officials knew as far back as April 2021 that large swaths of Green Line Extension tracks were defective and about an eighth-of-an-inch too narrow. Despite allegedly knowing this, the former managers of the beleaguered transportation agency opened the lines anyway.

During a television appearance that aired Sunday, Healey said all indications are that the problem was never divulged to former Gov. Charlie Baker, who attended ribbon cuttings for the completed $2.3 billion expansion in March and December of 2022.

“I have no information suggesting that he knew,” Healey told WBZ.

Healey said she is “really upset” over revelations the newly installed tracks are significantly out of gauge with the rail industry standard and causing tortuous slow-travel zones for commuters, many of whom waited years to access the expanded transit system.

The opening of the Green Line Extension was supposed to bring the mass of Somerville residents to within a 12-minute walk of an MBTA station. The five GLX stops could serve 50,000 riders each day and take about 45,000 car trips out of traffic, according to the MBTA.

Healey’s assertion confirms one made by a Baker spokesperson, who told the Herald the former governor was never made aware of a problem which, according to Eng, “could have been and should have been more proactively investigated prior to opening.”

The current governor credits Eng, whom she appointed, with “identifying the issue, disclosing it and taking steps to address it.” The governor also said that problems with the MBTA, whoever may have caused them, are now her responsibility to see fixed.

“I took this job understanding that the T was going to be a major, major issue,” she said. “As governor I have accepted the task of making sure we are doing everything we can to address years — years — of mismanagement and underinvestment.”

The blame is not on the workers who installed the tracks, Healey said, but their bosses who “knew information, didn’t disclose it, and most importantly didn’t address it.”

“This is on management,” she said.

The Green Line is “entirely safe” despite the slow zones, according to the governor.

“I do want the public to know that,” she said.

Standard rail gauge is four feet and eight-and-a-half inches. According to Eng, it would be unusual for the tracks to narrow once they are in use, as they typically widen slightly when trains traverse newly installed rail.

Eng said he has already received a proposal from the GLX contractors on how they will go about fixing the problem. The GM says tax payers will not be on the hook for the cost of repairs, which may take weeks.


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