Sometimes it's the little things that can completely throw a commute off track - pun slightly intended - and cause significant delays, which nobody wants. A slight rail defect, a loose screw, a blip in a signal system.
A team at a local university is now working to fix that, with help from the federal government - and a transit system halfway across the country.
The United States Department of Transportation's Research and Innovative Technology Administration has awarded a group of researchers over at U-Mass Lowell a $1 million grant to develop a new system to inspect and label defects in railroad systems.
Boston Business Journal reports that the automated system, once it's all said and done, will be able to use various technologies to scour tracks and everything else that helps to keep the systems together - ties, bolts, whizbangs, etc. The system will then be able to identify problems and alert the agency in order to more effectively and quickly get the issue fixed before it reaches commute-stopping status.
Officials at U-Mass Lowell say the final product will be tested on not one, but two transit systems -- the MBTA and Metro St. Louis. There's no information so far as to when, exactly, that's projected to be done - but I'll keep an eye on it and let you know.
The project is being spearheaded by the U-Mass Lowell Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. According to the school, two professors are at the helm - Yuanchang Xie of Nashua, New Hampshire and Tzuyang Yu of Lowell. The team, which is also comprised of several graduate students, has representatives from not only U-Mass Lowell, but Duke University, Penn State - Altoona, University of Alaska - Fairbanks and UVM.
Considering all the problems the MBCR and MBTA have been facing - especially this winter - with aging infrastructures, a system like this could really be beneficial in helping the agency pinpoint problems to tackle before a cable fire or a broken signal forces you out in the cold again.
The Orange Line's getting the brunt of the diversions for the next couple of weeks. This weekend, you're probably noticing that there's busing in place between Sullivan Square and Oak Grove - that will be in place until the end of service Sunday.
However, there's also going to be weekday diversions in place throughout the next two weeks. On March 11th, 12th, 17th, 19th, 20th, 21st and 24th, you'll also be bussed from Sullivan Square to Oak Grove (or vice versa) starting at 9:00 PM. Bus service will make all stops.
These diversions, as we're familiar with by now, are to keep work going on the Assembly Square project. No word from the T just yet if there will be any more diversions this month, but if I find out, I will let you know.
Keep in mind that the Orient Heights station on the Blue Line is set to shut down March 23rd. They're going to be completely rehauling that station, and access to the Blue Line will not be available there until October. More info on that in this entry.
You'll find slowdowns here...
Route 2 eastbound at Bedford Road, Lincoln: road construction closes lanes Sunday through Friday from 8:00 PM to 6:00 AM.
93 in both directions between Montvale Avenue, Woburn (Exit 36) and Park Street, Stoneham (Exit 35): bridge inspection closes lanes Sunday from 4:00 AM to noon.
Route 1 in both directions at Route 129, Lynnfield: utility work will close lanes Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.
95 in both directions at Route 1 (Exit 50), Topsfield: bridge inspection closes lanes on Thursday from 8:00 PM to 4:00 AM.
495 in both directions between Woburn Street (Exit 37) and the Lowell Connector (Exit 35), Lowell: bridge inspection closes lanes on Thursday from 8:00 PM to 4:00 AM.
495 in both directions between Route 97 (Exit 50) and Route 125 (Exit 51), Haverhill: bridge inspection closes lanes on Tuesday from 7:00 PM to 3:00 AM.
Route 3 northbound between Route 4 (Exit 32) and Route 40, Chelmsford (Exit 33): construction work closes lanes each Tuesday and Wednesday from 8:00 PM to 5:30 AM.
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. Lane split still in effect southbound between Great Plain Avenue and Route 135 - will be until at least the end of 2013.
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.
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