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New image shows the deteriorated column that caused a sudden MBTA shutdown

A dilapidated support column near Haymarket Station caused major service impacts in June.

Photo released by the MBTA of the deteriorated support column in the MBTA's tunnel near Haymarket Station that caused the abrupt shut down of Orange and Green Line service there for several days in June. MBTA

As the MBTA faces the possibility of extending reduced service in order to meet safety recommendations from the federal government, new details have been released about the deteriorated support infrastructure near Haymarket Station that caused sudden service cancellations last month. 

During a meeting of the MBTA’s board of directors Tuesday General Manager Steve Poftak shared an image of a water-damaged support column inside subway tunnels near Haymarket station, The Boston Globe reported. The column, covered in a thick layer of rust, was discovered as workers inspected the Government Center Garage in June. 

Engineers working for The HYM Investment Group found the damaged column as they prepped to demolish the garage. In its place, HYM will build the new Bullfinch Crossing, a megaproject that will include apartments, offices, and lab space. 

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The discovery of this support column came months after the project turned deadly. In March, a collapse at the garage killed demolition worker Peter Monsini. While operating a piece of heavy machinery, the floor underneath Monsini gave way, causing him to fall nine stories to the ground, according to the Globe

The dilapidated support infrastructure underneath the garage caused major service interruptions on the MBTA’s Green and Orange lines. 

“This service disruption as a result of HYM’s project is unacceptable and the MBTA will seek to hold HYM Construction accountable for all costs associated with this event,” Poftak said in the statement at the time. “Riders’ safety is our top priority and unfortunately, as a result of this private party’s project, we must divert trains until the tunnels can be inspected and cleared by independent experts.”

This week, he reiterated that the support columns underneath Haymarket “are the responsibility of HYM.” Although the supports run through MBTA tunnels, they are technically part of the garage, which is privately owned and therefore not the responsibility of the MBTA, a spokesperson said. HYM has already paid for the cost of shuttle buses and to reinforce the deteriorated column with new support beams, the Globe reported. 

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The shutdown caused by the water-damaged column lasted three days

The MBTA also came under criticism from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The federal government conducted a near-unprecedented safety review of the MBTA, and issued a series of special directives for the agency last month. Those directives put the onus on the MBTA to fix issues like defective track conditions, a lack of specific procedures for disabled trains, and apparent 20-hour shifts for some subway dispatchers. 

Poftak said on Tuesday that the MBTA is on track to meet these requirements. The FTA had threatened to withhold up to 25% of financial assistance if the directives are not acted upon in a timely manner. 

In order to comply with the FTA directives, the MBTA reduced service on the Red, Orange, and Blue lines in late June. These service changes were a specific response to the MBTA’s lack of dispatchers. Officials said they are looking to increase the amount of heavy rail dispatchers from 17 up to 32, according to the Globe.

Other safety issues the MBTA has faced recently include multiple derailments, the death of a man who got caught in a Red Line door, and the removal of all new Orange Line trains from service due to battery failures.

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