T notes: Agency nearing $1b capital spending target

T notes: Agency nearing $1b capital spending target

More repair projects mean more rider inconvenience

THE MBTA IS CLOSING IN on its goal of investing $1 billion a year in the transit system.

Joanna Aalto, who oversees the T’s capital program, told the Fiscal and Management Control Board on Monday that the agency spent $811 million in fiscal 2017, including $709 million addressing so-called state-of-good repair projects. The T is planning to spend $942 million in fiscal 2018, including $795 million on state-of-good repair projects.

The fiscal 2017 spending on state-of-good repair projects fell short of the T’s $750 million target, but was still well above the $502 million spent the previous year.

To keep spending on an upward trajectory, the T has been pushing out more contracts faster than ever. Aalto said the T has hired 24 more employees to oversee capital projects and shortened construction procurements from between seven and nine months to no more than three months.

As a result, the dollar value of contracts awarded by the T hit $328 million in fiscal 2017 and is expected to rise to $450 million in fiscal 2018. For fiscal 2014 through fiscal 2016, the T awarded a total of $259 million in contracts.

With the increased spending on capital improvement projects, members of the control board said the public will probably face more inconvenience as subways lines, T stations, parking garages, and other services are shut down temporarily while infrastructure projects are completed. Steve Poftak, a member of the control board, said bus diversions around construction projects will increasingly become a “fact of life” for riders on the T.

Jeffrey Gonneville, the T’s deputy general manager, outlined new procedures the T will follow making it easier for riders to navigate bus diversions. The new procedures, including a lot more signage, followed complaints last week about a diversion on the Red Line between Park Street Station and Kendall.

“This is part of the reality for our customers for the next many years,” said Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack .

Bus driver commended

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

MBTA bus driver Gary Goorahlal was commended Monday for confronting a male passenger who was harassing a female passenger on his Route 426 bus on October 27.

According to T officials, Goorahlal pulled the bus over, called the transit police, and confronted the man.  Officials said the male passenger threatened Goorahlal and showed he had a gun. The officials said the passenger subsequently fled and was arrested.