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Prepping for pesky storms on the rails, and construction slowdown spots

Posted by Nichole Davis  January 12, 2013 02:10 PM

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Thanks for all your great insight on the Route 3 toll issue! It's true that the significant congestion is a problem that has to be dealt with, but I'm still not exactly convinced that tolls would be the best solution. We'll have to wait and see how that all plays out.

Next week I'll have a question from a reader about parking tickets -- yes, this relates to the T -- and I'll also have your MLK Day MBTA schedule, among other things. Have a good weekend!

You'll remember that, over the most recent cold snap, there were a couple of days where traveling via subway or commuter rail was a pretty difficult task. Delays, broken equipment, you name it -- it was a tough couple of days, with many pointing fingers for blame.

I sent a message over to the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail - they're the group that's currently in charge of managing commuter rail service across the Commonwealth. I asked them if they could explain what steps are being put in place to ensure that commuter rail service was as unaffected as possible during these inclement weather days. Rhiannon D'Angelo works with the agency that represents MBCR. She sent along some information that, upon reading, I found to be interesting.

Of course, in winter weather, you've got the capability for ice, snow and wind to really wreak havoc on not just the tracks, but signal systems, bridges, and railroad crossings. Rhiannon says that, during routine maintenance, "Hy-rail" vehicles are roaming the rails to check the tracks for any issues that might pop up between storms. They're also clearing snow and ice off switches, and salting and sanding as necessary.

Rhiannon also says that the MBCR has a fleet of snow removal equipment to take care of the tracks before, during, and after storms. These include snow jets (which she describes to me as "Oversized jet engine-powered snow blowers attached to bulldozers and rail cars", which makes me really want one for my driveway), snow augers ("self-propelled snow blowers to clear platforms"), and your usual standard plow.

She also mentioned that it's not just the tracks that they're concerned about, but the trains, too. Protective covers for the locomotives are key this time of year. Rhiannon tells me that they have polyurethane covers that cover the cables linking coaches together. She says that those covers help to keep those sensitive areas of the train from ice and snow. Protective covers also are placed over motors to keep snow from leaking in and shorting the motor out, which would then cause a significant delay.

Rhiannon says that if you're looking for information during inclement weather, you have several sources to do so. You can either call the MBCR at 617 222 3200, sign up for T alerts or MBCR "Rail Mail", or follow the MBCR on Twitter at @MBCR_info.

Do you have any questions for the MBCR about their winter weather plans? Leave them in the comments and I will pass them on.

MBTA Matters

Bus service is replacing usual Orange Line travel between Sullivan Square and Oak Grove from the start of service Saturday to the end of service Sunday this weekend, and the next two weekends as well. Buses will make all stops, and normal service will continue starting on Monday morning. This, of course, is for that ongoing work on the Assembly Square project.

You'll find slowdowns here...

Route 128 southbound at Brimbal Avenue, Beverly (Exit 19): guardrail repair will be blocking the shoulder on Tuesday, January 15th from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM.

Route 128 southbound at Route 3, Burlington (Exit 32): expect lane closures for road work on Saturday, January 12th from 5:00 AM to 10:00 AM.

Route 1 northbound at Lowell Street, Peabody: expect lane closures for a work crew on Tuesday, January 15th from 10:30 AM to 1:30 PM.

Route 20 westbound at Route 128, Waltham: road work will close lanes on Monday, January 14th from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM.

24 northbound between Route 139, Stoughton (Exit 20) and 128, Randolph: expect lane closures and a rough road surface due to ongoing paving work in place until mid-January 2013.

Route 128 in both directions between Route 135, Dedham (Exit 17) and Highland Avenue, Needham (Exit 19): continuous lane closures are in effect until further notice as part of the 128 widening project. Expect extra slowdowns, especially during mid-days, for work.

Route 9 eastbound at the Hammond Pond Parkway, Newton: expect heavy delays due to ongoing paving work Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

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.

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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