Green and Orange Lines shut down near Haymarket due to unsafe garage supports

Written by Javed Iqbal


The T encourages commuters affected by the disruption to work from home until the problem is resolved if they can.

HYM Construction discovered that support columns passing through the MBTA tunnels have been severely degraded. (Lane Turner / Globe Staff

Major disruptions on the green and orange lines are expected to last several days after a contractor discovered that garage supports running through the MBTA tunnels near Haymarket Station have deteriorated.

The MBTA announced Thursday night that the Orange Line will not run between Back Bay and North Station with immediate effect. It said Orange Line riders can use the green line between Copley and Government Center stations as an alternative.

In addition, the green line will be replaced by shuttle buses between Lechmere and Government Center stations.

MBTA said HYM Construction, the contractor that is demolishing the private Government Center Garage, told the transit authority Thursday afternoon that the garage’s support pillars, which are part of the subway tunnels around Haymarket station, have fallen into disrepair.

The tunnel area is currently an unsafe environment for trains to pass through, the MBTA said, so the service should be stopped immediately.

In a statement, MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak accused HYM Construction of the service disruptions.

“This service outage due to HYM’s project is unacceptable and MBTA will seek to hold HYM Construction liable for all costs associated with this event,” Poftak said. “Rider safety is our top priority, and unfortunately, as a result of this private party’s project, we will have to redirect trains until the tunnels can be inspected and cleared by independent experts.”

An MBTA spokesman explained to Boston.com over the phone that even though the garage supports run through the MBTA tunnels, they are part of the garage, which is privately owned, and therefore not MBTA’s responsibility.

It reported WBZ-TV that HYM Construction in a statement said that the columns had deteriorated due to water damage and that the service disruptions are not a result of ongoing construction work on the garage.

“A column below the surface near the green and orange lines was identified as compromised due to years of water damage,” HYM said in a statement to CBS News. “The condition of this column is not related to the demolition work on the Government Center Garage.”

The MBTA said it will not resume rail traffic through the Haymarket tunnels until a team of civil engineers make emergency repairs and confirm that the underground link can be resumed safely.

T said it will provide service updates to customers as inspection work continues, but that it expects service disruptions to last several days.

Additional MBTA staff will be on hand to assist customers during this train outage, MBTA said. Additional accessibility vehicles will also be available and interested riders should ask MBTA staff for information.

“Due to expected delays on local roads when buses navigate downtown Boston streets, MBTA also encourages commuters directly affected by the tunnel closures to consider working from home if possible during this time,” the MBTA wrote.

These service disruptions are the latest in a host of issues for MBTA in recent months.

Just earlier in the week, the transit agency pulled all of its new Orange Line trains out of service due to a battery issue with some of them. The week before, that reduced service on the red, orange and blue lines in response to federal authorities criticizing the use of overworked train dispatchers.

On June 15, the Federal Transit Authority released four specific directives to the MBTA in an attempt to immediately increase security. The FTA had inspected the MBTA for weeks after a series of security flaws in which people were injured.

In one of the more alarming cases, a man was dragged to death after his arm was caught between the doors of a Red Line train carriage. The train carriages are not intended to be able to move forward when the doors are locked.

The FTA has not yet decided whether it will take over the MBTA to prevent further problems, and a decision is likely to come at the end of the summer. A similar federal takeover has only happened once before, in Washington DC

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Javed Iqbal

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