‘Tremendous disruption’: Boston braces for monthlong shutdown of Orange Line

BOSTON (AP) — The 30-day shutdown of one of Boston’s four subway lines starting Friday night will make for longer and more complicated commutes despite a series of measures intended to ease the pain, authorities said.

Orange Line service will stop at 9 p.m. and will not resume until 5 a.m. Sept. 19 so the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority can complete years’ worth of track and signal replacement and maintenance in a month.

“We know this is a tremendous disruption, but it allows us to take a bold and decisive step to make the Orange Line and the MBTA safer, more reliable and faster, and we look forward to bringing that improved service to our customers at the end of the surge,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said at a Friday news conference.

The T, as it is known, has experienced a series of dangerous problems in the past year that prompted the Federal Transit Administration to launch a review of the system. Last month, an Orange Line train caught fire and prompted frightened passengers to climb out of windows, one jumping off a bridge into a river.

The Orange Line runs from the northern suburb of Malden, south through the heart of Boston and many of the city’s primarily minority neighborhoods, to the Jamaica Plain neighborhood.

The Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, the Coalition for an Equitable Economy and the Asian Business Empowerment Council released a joint statement detailing fears that the shutdown will disproportionately impact communities of color.

“The pause of the MBTA’s popular subway line affects a vital corridor connecting Boston’s downtown area to predominantly Black neighborhoods, including Jamaica Plain, Hyde Park, Roxbury, and Mission Hill, as well as Asian workers and residents in Chinatown,” the statement said. “Residents depend on the MBTA for safe transit to work, business, school, shopping, and other elements of daily life.”

In addition to bringing commuters to work every day, visitors also use the Orange Line to access many top tourist destinations, including Faneuil Hall Marketplace, the site of the Boston Massacre and the Paul Revere House.

The service makes about 100,000 trips per weekday, according to the MBTA.

The T is providing shuttle buses between stations during the shutdown, and the city has set aside designated bus-only travel lanes on some streets. Some commuter rail lines will also increase frequency and workers are being encouraged to work from home if possible or bike to work along designated cycling corridors.

Despite all the measures taken to mitigate potential problems, authorities acknowledge there will be traffic headaches due to the dedicated bus lanes and more people taking to their cars to get to work.

“We are expecting major traffic impacts in certain areas,” state Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver said.

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