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Here’s how local politicians are reacting to the Orange Line shutdown

Leaders say they are happy for upgrades to the T but frustrated that it came to a shutdown of the whole line.

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff
Local politicians have mixed feelings about the Orange Line shutdown. David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

After postponing a month-long shutdown of part of the Orange Line late last week, the MBTA announced Wednesday that it is shutting down the entire line for a month to perform upgrades, leaving riders who rely on the line confused and frustrated.

Since the shutdown was announced, many local politicians whose towns the Orange Line runs through spoke up in reaction.

Many said that while they are hopeful the shutdown will net big improvements, they are frustrated that such a large and long shutdown became necessary.

“Decades of deferred maintenance — compounded by a lack of urgency even in recent years — has left us at a crisis point for the MBTA and the hundreds of thousands of commuters who rely on public transportation every day,” Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said in a statement.

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“A shutdown of this scale will be tremendously stressful for the region, but I’m hopeful that doing this necessary work now will save us years of disruption down the line.”

Wu continued, saying the City will work closely with the MBTA to make sure the shuttle bus replacements run smoothly, especially with the start of the school year coming up.

“As an Orange Line commuter, I will continue riding the T frequently during this period to see firsthand the pain points and opportunities for improvement to transportation alternatives.

Somerville Mayor Katjana Ballantyne had similar thoughts.

“We all know the Orange Line urgently needs repairs, so it’s good to see them start this work, but the MBTA must also ensure that Orange Line riders can still easily get where they need to go,” she said in a statement.

“The T is a lifeline for many of our residents that gets them to work, healthcare, school, and more. They shouldn’t have to suffer a repeat of problems we’ve seen recently during T closures.”

Ballantyne stressed that the MBTA must provide well-advertised and reliable alternate service, and that the shutdown must be as short as possible.

Malden Mayor Gary Christenson also expressed his frustration with the shutdown.

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“This shutdown will without a doubt negatively impact our community, especially our residents who depend on the Orange Line to get to and from work and for our students returning to school,” he said in a statement.

“…This announcement also highlights our repeated stance over the years that the MBTA needs to do a better job of maintaining what they have rather than funding new projects, especially where it’s not cost neutral.”

Christenson added that he is working with his team and the MBTA to look for ways they might decrease disruption during the shutdown.

Massachusetts 5th Congressional District Rep. Katherine Clark, whose district includes towns on the top half of the Orange Line, said in a statement the fact that a shutdown was necessary is unacceptable.

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“It is outrageous that years of underinvestment have left the MBTA with this decision of last resort just to ensure basic safety for riders,” she said. “This service disruption will upend the lives of those who have already been hit hardest by the pandemic and its economic fallout.”

Clark finished by calling for a “clear, comprehensive plan” for how to accommodate Orange Line riders and update the T.

State Senator Patricia Jehlen, whose district includes Somerville and Medford, also spoke out on Twitter.

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“Extreme disruption to work/school commutes is outrageous, but needed to prevent fires, derailments & shutdowns,” Jehlen tweeted. “…Riders deserve better. I remain committed to providing the MBTA with the resources it needs to improve the system and, along with my colleagues in the legislature, will hold them accountable.”

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