The following is a letter from Somerville State Sen. Pat Jehlen, Somerville State Rep. Carl Sciortino, and State Rep. Sean Garballey of Arlington:
On November 5, the MBTA started a maintenance project to address one of the most safety-critical areas: the floating concrete slabs in the Red Line tunnel between Alewife and Harvard stations. While this project is vital to prevent train derailments and reduce breakdowns, it unfortunately will have a major impact on everyone that relies on weekend Red Line service during the winter. The Red Line service between Alewife and Harvard will be shut down each weekend, except for the weekends of Christmas and New Years, from now until March 4, 2012.
Shuttle bus service will replace train service along the Harvard to Alewife route. Representatives from the MBTA came to State House on November 2 to brief legislators on the project, followed by a public presentation the same evening at Somerville High School. They assured us that they will do everything they can to reduce impact on weekend T riders. The replacement shuttle service will run more frequently than the normal Red Line schedule, with buses running every two minutes at its busiest times. They also promised to have customer service personnel and ample signage at each location to assist customers. In response to our concerns about people waiting outside in the middle of winter, the MBTA has assured us that the stations will remain open, allowing people to wait for the shuttle buses inside. Lastly, extra attention will be paid to snow removal at the affected stations. Several of the elected officials present at the legislative briefing pressed MBTA officials on the need for a heightened level of customer service to mitigate the inconvenience that our constituents could experience during these coming months.
The main focus of the project is to replace failing concrete slabs along the bottom of the tunnel tracks. The tracks are mounted onto concrete slabs, which are then placed on rubber disks to absorb shock and to reduce noise and vibrations. Many of these concrete slabs are badly damaged due to water filtration into the tunnel, as well as decades of deterioration. Part of the project will be to replace the damaged slabs and seal the tunnel to reduce water leaking into the tunnel. Simultaneously, they will be replacing a large amount of general track and third rails throughout the tunnel. Some of recent train breakdowns in this area of the Red Line have been caused by third rail corrosion, worsened by the water leaks in the tunnel. This project will address this problem by replacing these sections of rail.
We are all committed to seeing this work completed in the least disruptive way possible, and will do our best to monitor progress and customer service throughout the project. We, the MBTA Legislative Caucus, and the MBTA would appreciate your feedback. Should you have any questions or concerns or should you experience any issues, you can contact the MBTA Customer Support Services directly at (617) 222-3200. You can also call the MBTA toll free at 1-800-392-6100.
Senator Patricia D. Jehlen,
Co-Chair MBTA Legislative Caucus
Representative Sean Garballey,
Co-Chair MBTA Legislative Caucus
Representative Carl Sciortino,
Vice-Chair MBTA Legislative Caucus