Wu calls MGH project a ‘catalytic investment’
Says hospital buildout could be key to Red-Blue connector
BOSTON MAYOR Michelle Wu is calling the construction of two connected towers at Massachusetts General Hospital a “catalytic investment” that could not only boost health care in the city but transform public transportation.
As expected, Mass General Brigham won state regulatory approval on Wednesday for the addition of 78 inpatient beds at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital in Jamaica Plain and the construction of the two new clinical towers downtown at MGH along Cambridge Street.
Wu, in a letter to the Public Health Council, welcomed the jobs and enhanced health care the project will bring. But she also highlighted the potential transit benefits the project could unlock — a multi-modal Cambridge Street, improved access to Logan International Airport, and construction of the “missing link” between the MBTA’s Red and Blue lines.
What Wu is talking about is the long-sought connection between the Red and Blue subway lines. By extending the Blue Line from its existing terminus at Bowdoin to Charles/MGH, a stop on the Red Line, the MBTA would be able to give riders of the Red Line easier access to Logan and give riders of the Blue Line easier access to MGH and Cambridge.
The construction project at Massachusetts General Hospital is divided into two phases — the first to be completed by 2027 and the second by 2030.
What’s still unclear is whether the MBTA is committed to moving forward with the Red-Blue connector. The expectation is that the T would use a cut and cover construction approach — dig a trench down Cambridge Street, construct the subway tunnel in place, and then cover the trench back up again and rebuild the street infrastructure. T officials have estimated the project could cost as much as $850 million.
A Red-Blue connector had support on the T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board, but the new T board hasn’t said much about it. The T has included $15 million in its proposed five-year capital investment plan (2023-2027) for planning and initial design.MGH officials say they are setting aside space and access for the MBTA headhouse but not building or furnishing it. The space would become available with the second phase of the hospital construction project, which won’t be completed until 2030. The officials say the hospital construction is not contingent on the T moving ahead with the Red-Blue connector.
Wu, of course, wants the hospital construction and the Red-Blue connector to move ahead in tandem. “The city will be focused on working with the hospital, the MBTA, and the Commonwealth to ensure that all Cambridge Street projects move forward in a coordinated way and align with this important transit priority,” she wrote in her letter to the Public Health Council.