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Off the rails (literally), and an Orange Line miffing

Posted by Nichole Davis  October 8, 2012 11:08 PM

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Back from the extended weekend! With any luck you were able to get some rest. I was too busy stuffing myself with fried things at fairs and elsewhere to consider that...!

Down to business. Today I've got a question from Maryanne, who had a misleading experience on the Orange Line and wants answers. I've also got details on today's E line snafu, and construction on the downtown roads.

FYI: keep in mind that if you (like me) normally take Storrow Drive westbound out of the downtown to head home or wherever, you may want to consider Memorial Drive for the next few months, as they're going to be working to replace the Storrow Tunnel and doing other work around the Longfellow. The westbound stretch between Leverett Circle and the Hatch Shell will be closed weeknights from 9 PM to 5 AM.

On Monday, 9/24, I attended a concert at TD Garden. I knew that there was ongoing Orange Line work, so before we left, I checked MBTA.com to see what the situation was. This is part of the Orange Line advisory: "*On nights when events are held at TD Garden, regular Orange Line service will remain in effect until the completion of service." The bold is theirs, not mine. This is copied directly from the online advisory.

After reading this, we drove to Oak Grove, went to and enjoyed our concert, and were more than a little miffed when we got on the Orange Line to come home and were told that we'd be bussed from Sullivan to Oak Grove. Had I thought that this would be the situation, we would have driven to Sullivan and parked there. I've submitted a complaint via MBTA.com, but have not heard back from them. I'm just curious, what does the MBTA consider an "event" at TD Garden? What option would I have to find out in the future if an "event" that I'm attending is considered an "event" by the MBTA?

Maryanne, Wakefield

I would be more than a little miffed if I were you! That sounds downright frustrating. In the search for answers in this situation, I ended up talking to Susie Garcia, who is the Deputy Director of Orange Line Operations at the MBTA. She was very apologetic and told me that they weren't expecting big crowds for the event that night, so they thought they'd be able to take a chance on busing (which they call Early Access Diversion, I learned).

It didn't turn out that way, obviously, as you experienced. Garcia told me that they won't be doing that anymore, and now any night that there is an event where there is high attendance expected (concert, game, etc) at the Garden, there will be train service.

Some may be wondering, well, why are they busing in the first place? For those not familiar, the MBTA is constructing a brand new stop on the Orange Line in Assembly Square. It's set to be the first new stop on the T since 1987! Doors will open in the Fall of 2014, and since they're building the station on existing tracks, they don't have to go through as much of a hassle in building the station. They are, however, trying to get a bulk of the track work done before the end of the year. So, until December, every Sunday through Thursday night busing is replacing service between Oak Grove and Sullivan Square (except on holidays) (and, as we see, on Big Event Nights at the Garden).

Learn more about the Assembly Square project here. Also, if you're a Wiki addict like me, have a gander at the page for the planned stop here.

Jumping the tracks

Okay, there's no way this couldn't make it into today's entry...

If you hadn't heard, there was a derailing on the E line today. The incident occurred around 4 this afternoon, between Longwood and Brigham Circle. The MBTA is now citing "human error" as the cause of the snafu, which left three people injured (including one of the operators of the struck trolley) and the outbound train completely off its tracks.

So, what sort of "human error" occurred? According to spokesman Joe Pesaturo, a switch had not been properly switched when it should have been switched, which left a crossover area on the tracks in the wrong position. Take a look here (photo credit Steven Bognar, CBS Boston). An empty inbound train was the one that took out not only a light pole, but the outbound trolley that was carrying passengers.

Huntington Avenue was shut down completely for hours between Longwood Avenue and Tremont Street, so access to Mission Hill and the Longwood Medical Area was severely throttled. Busing was in place the entire afternoon and evening, but normal service is expected to be in place on Tuesday morning. And these trains didn't suffer just a little love tap -- Pesaturo told the Globe that the trains both suffered "significant damage".

Thankfully, if there's going to be a good time when these issues occur, a holiday is the better time for that. Why? Well, considering the crash happened during afternoon rush hour, where there would have been significantly higher ridership on any normal workday, we could have seen several more injuries than there were. Plus, there could have been a traffic nightmare, as you've got people trying to navigate via Huntington not only to the local colleges (Northeastern, Wentworth, MassArt, etc) but to the hospitals in the Longwood Medical Center ... plus, you have commuters trying to get to Route 9, the Riverway ... students going to and from Mission Hill ... I'm surprised we didn't see a worse traffic impact!

I'm also curious to see what measures the T will take in a) punishing whoever is responsible for not switching the switch and b) trying to prevent something like this from happening again. Full story here.

You'll find slowdowns here... (Downtown Boston edition)

Expressway / O'Neill Tunnel Southbound

The three left lanes will close through the Dewey Square Tunnel section on Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 PM to 5 AM.

The ramp from Essex Street to 93 southbound will close on Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 PM to 5 AM.

The ramps from the Surface Artery at New Chardon Street to 93 southbound and the Callahan Tunnel will close Tuesday through Thursday nights from 11 PM to 5 AM.

The Everett Street on-ramp to Route 1 and the Tobin Bridge southbound will close on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 11:30 PM to 5 AM.

The ramp from Leverett Circle to 93 southbound will close Friday from 11 PM to 5 AM.

Three lanes will close on the Lower Deck over the Zakim Bridge into the O'Neill Tunnel on Friday from 11 PM to 5 AM.

Mass Pike Eastbound

++ COMPLETE CLOSURE ++ of the Pike at Exit 22 (Prudential Center / Copley Square) Tuesday through Thursday nights from 11 PM to 5 AM. Follow detours.

The ramp from the South Boston bypass road to the Pike eastbound will close Wednesday and Thursday nights from 11:59 PM to 5 AM.

The Albany Street connector ramp to the Pike eastbound will close on Tuesday and Wednesday nights from 11 PM to 5 AM.

The ramp from the South Boston bypass Road to the Pike eastbound will close Tuesday night from 11:59 PM to 5 AM.

Mass Pike Westbound

The Copley Square on-ramp to the Pike westbound will close Tuesday through Friday from 9 PM to 5 AM.

The off-ramps from the O'Neill Tunnel southbound at Exit 20 to the Pike westbound will close Tuesday and Wednesday nights from 11 PM to 5 AM.

The ramps from Harborside Drive to the Ted Williams Tunnel westbound will close on Wednesday from 11 PM to 5 AM.

Storrow Drive Tunnels

Storrow Drive westbound will close Tuesday through Thursday nights from the Longfellow Bridge to Leverett Circle for ongoing work from 10:30 PM to 5:00 AM.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com 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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