Check out the MBTA’s renderings of the proposed Red-Blue connector

A very early look at how MBTA officials envision connecting the two subway lines.

A view of the Charles/MGH MBTA station. David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe

With Massachusetts General Hospital planning a nearly $2 billion expansion of its downtown Boston campus, the long-discussed proposal of directly linking the MBTA’s Red and Blue lines has been thrust back to the forefront.

And now, we even have a few preliminary draw ups of what the so-called Red-Blue connector might look like.

MBTA officials have been holding private talks with MGH about how the hospital’s new building plans could accommodate a link between the Red and Blue lines, which are the only two MBTA subway lines that don’t directly connect.

Renderings obtained through a public records request show that the MBTA is envisioning a new underground Blue Line station beneath the west end of Cambridge Street with elevators and escalators ascending to (and descending from) the ground-level lobby of the Charles/MGH Red Line station.

An MBTA rendering of the proposed Red-Blue connector, looking northeast up Cambridge Street.

The images also show escalators connecting the Blue Line station to an entrance inside one of the future MGH buildings on Cambridge Street.

The MBTA, which partnered with the engineering firm AECOM, included the renderings in a February presentation during a meeting with MGH officials. A number of the presentation slides were redacted due to security reasons.


A spokesman for the MBTA, who noted that the drafts are in a “very preliminary form,” declined to answer questions about the plans, but noted that T officials will provide an update on the Red-Blue connector at the next Fiscal Management and Control Board meeting on June 7.

The MGH entrance — mezzanine view.

While MGH is hoping to fully complete its expansion by 2030, the timeline for the Red-Blue connector, at least for now, remains unclear. MBTA officials have included it among the projects they plan to finish by 2040. It could come sooner, though MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said in early 2020 that he was hesitant to commit to finishing it this decade.

The project involves the complicated engineering task of tunneling below Cambridge Street to extend the Blue Line another 1,500 feet from its current eastern terminus, Bowdoin station.

The MGH entrance — ground-level view.

The new renderings also suggest an increasingly ominous future for Bowdoin station, which is one of the least busy stations in the MBTA system.

For years, state officials have been discussing whether a Red-Blue connector would involve eliminating Bowdoin, which is located roughly a quarter-mile from the Government Center MBTA station, which also serves the Blue Line.

Another option involved relocating Bowdoin’s platform while maintaining its existing mezzanine and head house. However, in a 2018 memo, state officials wrote that eliminating the station was the preferred option. The recent renderings also do not show any connection from the new station to Bowdoin.


Supporters of the connector, which has been floated for decades, say it would smooth the commutes between the growing populations along the Blue Line in East Boston and Revere — as well as Logan Airport — and health care and technology job hubs in Boston and Cambridge. Currently, Blue Line riders must transfer twice — switching first onto the Green or Orange lines — in order to reach destinations on the Red Line.

Officials in Boston pushed for the Red-Blue connector as part of the city’s bid for Amazon’s second headquarters in 2017, but funding has been a barrier. MBTA officials estimated in 2018 that the connector could cost between $200 million and $350 million, less than half the cost of previous estimates. And as The Boston Globe reported earlier this month, advocates hope that the MGH project, along with potential federal funding, could be a catalyst.

“It’s an opportunity to marry the projects,” state Sen. Joe Boncore, a co-chair of the Legislature’s transportation committee, told the Globe.

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