The MBTA Green Line Transformation (GLT) team held a public meeting on July 14 to discuss track work that has now begun between Brigham Circle and South Huntington Ave. stations.
Angel Pena, Chief of the GLT, said that a year’s worth of work will be completed in 28 days for this project, and said that it will include the replacement of “4,0000 feet of embedded track between the South Huntington curve and Brigham Circle.”
The project commenced on August 2, and is expected to be completed on August 29.
He said that this work will also include roadway and pavement improvements that will benefit pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists as well.
According to the presentation, a “28-day full-access closure is more efficient than one year of weekend diversions or night work,” and will allow for better safety at the site and gets rid of the need to continually set up and break down the construction area.
The team also said that they have “worked closely with the City of Boston and other stakeholders as we prepare to carry out this work.”
MBTA Senior Project Manager Desiree Patrice said that the team has spoken to the contractors to create and distribute signage for businesses impacted by the construction. The signs will let patrons know that businesses are still open during the construction.
GLT Senior Director Ben Frison said that there will be about two weeks of prep work before the construction starts, which will help to “minimize disruptions and impacts on the community.”
He said construction will occur in three different parts, beginning with the section from South Huntington Ave. to Frawley St., then Mission Park Dr. To Fenwood Rd., then the Tremont St.intersection. He also said that there will be a return to the second section to finish up.
GLT Project Manager Gwen Dunlevy added that prep work will commence from St. Albans Rd. to the Mission Park Garage.
She also talked about the “typical work zone,” which includes a contractor taking over the center lanes of road to replace the track and repave the road. There will be one lane in each direction to allow cars and buses to travel, and no parking at any time will be allowed along the work zone.
Frison said that there has been “advance coordination” with the local businesses regarding the work, and there have been in-person meetings with business owners in the Brigham Circle area as well.
He said that following conversations with business owners, the work plan had been changed to reflect the desire of reducing the impact of construction on the businesses. The original plan called for 18 days of work that would impact outdoor seating for local restaurants, but that has since been reduced to seven days, after which the outdoor seating will be restored.
Frisn also said that members of the GLT team will be available daily on site to respond to concerns from local residents during the construction.
Dunlevy then talked about minimizing noise disruption in the neighborhood. The presentation states that “the loudest work will occur when crews cut rails with a saw and tamp the track t proper elevation.”
According to a slide presented, noise mitigation efforts include “using self-adjusting backup alarms, silencers or mufflers on equipment,” as well as other efforts to minimize noise such as noise blankets and “sound-deadening” material in bins and hoppers.
Dunlevy also spoke about the traffic management plan, which will include warning signs to detour traffic from construction, a police detail for emergency access, and U-turns will be permitted at the Longwood intersection with a police detail.
Pedestrian access will remain with crosswalks at either end of the work area, and there will be officers on hand to help pedestrians cross the street at every intersection.
Alternative service to the Green Line from Health St. to Brigham Circle will be offered on the 39 bus free of charge, and service on that line will be more frequent during the construction period.
Patrice said that more than 4,000 subscribers were emailed with information about this project, and details about it are available on the MBTA GLT webpage.
Pena added that the website is updated regularly, and the team can be reached via email at [email protected] Additionally, there is a 24/7 noise hotline available for residents to call during the construction period. The number for the hotline is 508-676-3517.
One of the owners of Penguin Pizza said that he “found out on the 7th of July that we’re going to be losing our outdoor seating,” and that there was “no compensation for losing it.”
He said he feels that the process has not been fair and that restaurant owners have not had enough time to “object.”
He said that the team did meet with business owners, but some asked if the project could be done at a different time, and not when students are coming back to the neighborhood.
“Presently, 70 percent of our business is outdoor seating,” he said, adding that he believes the project should happen in “October or November when there is more stability in our economy.”
He said that while he recognizes the importance of the work, he does not approve of the process and the way it is being done.
“We understand that this is a very difficult decision,” said Nancy Farrell of the GLT team.
Dunlevy said that this project is being done in the summer and not the fall because “this is the time period where we have lowest ridership,” and it is also when there is the lowest recorded vehicle traffic in the area.
“We’re glad that we were able to reduce the impacts of that local area from 18 to 7 days,” Frison said. He said that the team recognizes that this work “is tough on local businesses, especially coming out of COVID.”
Farrell added that a letter is being written to express “the commitment for only seven days of impact on outdoor seating.”
Others also had concerns about the effect of the construction on local businesses, accessibility during construction, and other issues. The full video and slideshow from the meeting can be found at mbta.com/events/2021-07-14/public-meeting-green-line-transformation-glt-e-branch-track-and-intersection.
Any questions or concerns can be directed to [email protected]