Orange Line shutdown coming, perhaps for a month

MBTA facing federal directives to speed up maintenance work

THE MBTA is preparing to shut down the Orange Line later this month to do maintenance and repair work and there is speculation that the shutdown could last several weeks or perhaps a month.

The T board of directors on Wednesday is taking up a proposed contract with A Yankee Line Inc. to provide replacement bus service when the Orange Line and part of the Green Line are shut down for the work. Gov. Charlie Baker, Transportation Secretary Jamey Tesler, and MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak are holding a press availability at Wellington Station on Wednesday afternoon to deliver “an update regarding accelerated infrastructure upgrades to the MBTA to improve service, safety, and reliability for riders,” according to the governor’s schedule.

What’s unclear is the extent of the shutdown. Several sources say they understand the T intends to shut down the entire Orange Line, the T’s second busiest subway line after the Red Line, for a month to perform broader repairs.

MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo wouldn’t answer  questions about the nature and extent of the shutdown. “As the T has said previously,” he said in an email, “it is considering additional service diversions to accelerate construction work. This contract (being presented to the Board tomorrow) is for buses that would support those efforts. The T is finalizing details and will share more information with riders very soon. “

A partial shutdown of much smaller section of the Orange Line has been in the works for months.

There was a plan to suspend train operations on the Orange Line between Oak Grove Station in Malden and Wellington Station in Medford from July 29 to August 8, but the T announced on July 27 that the shutdown was being postponed.

“While the MBTA is pausing this work for now, the MBTA is exploring additional opportunities to accelerate work on the Orange Line, and will keep riders updated,” an MBTA press release said at the time. “The MBTA continues to prioritize safety enhancements and address additional track work and maintenance associated with the Federal Transit Administration directives.”

Those directives included one requiring the replacement of track on a deteriorated stretch of track on the Orange Line in Boston between the Tufts and Back Bay Stations so speed restrictions in the area can be removed. The T has already replaced 500 feet of track and has quite a bit left to do, which may be why a more extensive shutdown is being planned.

The Orange Line runs from Oak Grove in Malden to Forest Hills in Jamaica Plain. Some of the stops in between include Sullivan Square, North Station, Downtown Crossing, Back Bay, and Ruggles. The Orange Line connects to the Red Line at Downtown Crossing, the Blue Line at State, and the Green Line at Haymarket and North Station.