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A very MBTA-centric Friday post

Posted by Nichole Davis  August 23, 2012 10:37 PM

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Another week's in the books, and it's looking to be a nice end-of-summer weekend. Hope you have something fun planned; I'm packing up to get ready to move. (Which I don't wish on anyone, for what it's worth. What a process.)

If you're planning on heading out on the Red Line, be sure to check behind the cut - there's a new busing diversion set up there this weekend. Also, there's some good information as to why you should heed all those signs around the MBTA telling you to not walk on tracks ... also, if you're chased around by an overly large plush man during your subway jaunts, there's info here too as to what he's all about. (Don't worry, he won't hurt.)

Charlie's here... again...?

When the CharlieCard debuted, only those familiar with the "Charlie and the MTA" song knew who or what Charlie was. The now-MBTA's taken some good time to educate the public on the trials and tribulations of poor Charlie - stuck underground for seemingly all time, snatching his lunches from his saddened wife as the train barrels by at Government Center (formerly Scollay Square).

(Although, couldn't she just scrape together the cash to put in his lunch sack to get him out? I know, I know, it's the idea of the thing... just a thought.)

Now, Charlie's finally made it out of the subway -- well, sometimes. The MBTA unveiled their new life-size Charlie mascot this week. He made trips across the city, from Boston Common to South Station, garnering excitement and odd stares alike as he handed out free CharlieCards. He also took some time riding various lines with his entourage of MBTA employees, and, from what Eric Moskowitz reports, almost had a tumble or two into the rail pits. (More on that sort of incident in a minute.)

So, what exactly is the new mascot for? The MBTA says there's no specific reason that Charlie has decided to jump on board ... but they do say he will make appearances at parades and other city-centric events. As for who the mascot is...

The 26-year-old marketing employee drafted to wear the suit for reasons of youth, size, and stamina (he declined to be named, preserving ­Charlie’s everyman quality and his own dignity) was followed by three co-workers. They carried his bag, kept him plied with water, answered questions, tended reporters, handed maps to the public, and supplemented Charlie’s pin-prick eyes.

Learn more about Charlie's past and present here.

You can't get there from here. Really.

Admittedly, sometimes stations can be hard to navigate - especially from out of town. I get it. We've all been there. However, what seems the most direct route between two places isn't ... always that.

Earlier this week, an Attleboro woman was looking to board an outbound Red Line train at Kendall/MIT, but accidentally entered the station on the inbound side. For reasons that I can't fully understand or explain, she saw her train on the other side of the station, and took off to try and catch it -- by grabbing her young son and running right into the pit where the inbound trains come and go.

Concerned commuters rushed to the aid of the woman and her four year old son, and were able to pluck them out of the pit before disaster struck. Neither struck the third rail, but both were taken to MGH for observation.

There's a video circulating around, and you can find it in this MetroDesk article. If you want to cut right to the chase, the action starts around :35 in.

This isn't the first time this has happened as of late, as Adam at UniversalHub remarked today on Twitter. That instance took place in June at Central Square, and seemingly for the exact same reason -- a tourist entered on the inbound side, wanted the outbound train, and tried to jet across the (electrified) third rail pit. He, too, was rescued without serious injury. Watch that video and learn more here.

Some blunt, but possibly life-saving advice to any and all who are reading this blog: the third rail will kill you. You cannot access the opposite side of the tracks, as you've seen, if you enter on the wrong side. Take the extra minute, take a deep breath, power up and over to the other side, and, guess what? You'll maybe miss your ride, but you won't get a deadly jolt or hit by a train. It's not worth it.

Misguided sleeping habits

Speaking of things you shouldn't do near tracks...

I understand and appreciate the need for naps. Big fan, partake often. I try not to nap, though, where a very large and very fast MBCR train could squish me.

Fortunately, that was not the fate of Edward Leahy, who was found snoozing on the tracks just after the Track 1 platform at Back Bay during the Wednesday evening rush - despite the signs everywhere warning of the dangerous conditions. It took about half an hour or so for officers to remove Leahy from the tracks. He reportedly had no specific reason as to why he chose the commuter rail tracks to bed down on.

Leahy was arraigned Thursday in Boston District Court on a charge of trespassing. More on the story here.

MBTA Matters

Red Line riders: you've noticed the Ashmont span has been closed several times throughout the summer for track work. It's time now for the Quincy/Braintree stretch to suffer the same fate. Busing will be in place between JFK/UMass and Braintree from the start of service Saturday until the end of service Sunday. Buses will make all stops. The closures will also pop up several times in September, and I'll let you know when they do.

Quincy Center garage is still closed due to structural concerns, and will be indefinitely. Consider the Quincy Adams, Braintree and North Quincy stations as alternates. It'll be a bit easier to park at Quincy Adams than it has been, though -- over 100 new parking spots have been opened up for use there.

Riders on the Orange Line: busing continues between Oak Grove and Sullivan Square each Sunday through Thursday night until December 28. Diversions start up at 9:00 each evening and will last until the end of service that night. The shuttle buses will make all stops. Officials for the T say the diversion is necessary as track, signal, and power work are all being done in that stretch to continue the Assembly Square Project.

You'll find slowdowns here...

95 southbound between Route 114 and Route 1, Danvers - Peabody: paving operations take multiple lanes during the midday and overnight hours, occasionally running into morning drive. Expect delays through the area.

Route 3 southbound from the Braintree Split past the Burgin Parkway (Exit 19), Quincy: watch for lane shifts and ongoing paving work through most weekday middays and overnights. Expect heavy delays.

495 northbound between Boston Road, Westford (Exit 32 to Woburn Street, Lowell (Exit 37): ongoing lane stripping and paving operations in the left lane. Watch for several lane shifts in place.

Route 128 in both directions, between Route 109 (Exit 16) and Route 135 (Exit 17), Dedham: ongoing road widening project blocks the left lane through most weekday middays and overnights. Expect significant delays and possible blockages of the active breakdown lane.

Route 128 in both directions, between Route 38, Woburn (Exit 35) and Route 3, Burlington (Exits 32 A/B): left lane is closed for ongoing median work. Lane restrictions are in place. Expect heavy delays.

Route 1 Northbound between Main Street and Noah's Motors, Saugus:
right lanes are closed weekday nights between 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. for water main installation.

North Harvard Street over the Larz Anderson Bridge:
Continual lane closures are in effect in both directions for bridge reconstruction work. No left turn onto Memorial Drive from JFK Street.

Tobin Bridge in both directions: Watch for continual lane closures as DOT crews continue to paint the bridge. These will be in effect until November.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Nichole Davis is a Boston-based traffic reporter and news anchor. She’s been seen and heard on television and radio airwaves across New England since 2003, providing commuters with all the More »

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