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Just when you think the T couldn't get any worse: New GM says new Green Line Extension tracks need major work

WBZ reports that well over half the tracks on the Green Line Extension will have to be rebuilt - and that GM Phil Eng says previous management knew about the problem as early as 2021, but decided not to stop the already frequently delayed construction to fix the problem.

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It worked with the Orange Line.

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This is actually the first hope I have had that the T might improve. They really are working on the Ashmont line. I don’t think they’re playing around this time.

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I take it back. This morning they were working on the Braintree branch during rush hour delaying trains coming into JFK where everyone was piled up from the closed Ashmont line.

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The MBTA told the public, "give us 30 days, and we'll have trains running every 4-5 minutes and at much faster speeds." Then came the shuttle buses, which were much faster than the trains, and the hopes that new rails, new ties, and new connectors would bring an improved Orange Line.

It didn't. That "what would take six months in weekend shutdowns we can do in 30 days" was pure PR spin to fool the public.

When the 30 day surge was over, the excuses of why the trains couldn't run at full speed began in earnest ("the tracks need to settle first before we can run at full speed"), and then the real reasons why the surge was a failure surfaced - and the subsequent speed restrictions on all lines - not just the Orange - followed. The rails were junk, overworn, and cracked in certain places.

The OL has improved somewhat south of Downtown Crossing, but north of there, trains still run at a glacial pace between Community College and Sullivan Square, and especially over the flyover bridge for the Lowell Line. The Back Bay - Tufts speed restrictions were only lifted this spring.

It's good to hear that the Ashmont/Mattapan branches are being worked with much more zeal and care than the Orange Line, but will RL passengers hear the same excuses that OL passengers did? I hope not.

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Same contractors, Middlesex and Barletta, are working on Ashmont as worked on Orange.

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... will "previous management" (including "America's Best Governor Baker") pay for this screw-up?

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Baker is, for some reason, head of the NCAA now. At least you don't hear a lot of speculation about him running for Senate anymore: I think he must have imagined what it would be like having protestors playing "Charlie On The MBTA" outside every campaign stop.

Steve Poftak is a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. Those who can't do, and have the right connections, teach at Harvard.

Most of the rest of the T top brass are exactly where they were five years ago, in the same offices, pulling down the same salaries, for a different boss. For now.

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That song will drive you insane over time.
Also... no slide whistles.

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America's Best Governor Baker needs to be outed as the villain he is, Scooby Doo style.

"i would have destroyed public transportation nationwide if it weren't for you meddling kids!"

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If they had more money, everything would improve. Oh wait, this is a brand new section of tracks.

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Well to be fair this was a much watered down version of the extension. After the budget went up, unlike when it happened on the (toll free) central artery tunnel, Baker penny pinched (The globe described it as value engineering) and we got an inferior product. Not a surprise. Baker and the rest of the GOP hate public transit (socialism!) so its a win for him, a loss for our state. So saying they had enough money bc it's new is disingenuous.

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$2.3 billion dollars isn’t enough for 4.3 miles of above ground tracks that are to specifications?

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They could have afforded proper gauge tracks.

I can just see the conversation. "We can give you 4 feet 8 inches at the price, but 4 feet 8.5 inches will cost you extra." "Nah, we're good with 4 feet 8 inches."

How the heck does a contractor screw up track gauge?

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According to the Globe, this was not a little secret. The engineering verification company that the GLX contractor hired flagged it in 2001. That report was passed onto all the bigwigs at the T, the Dept of Public Utilities. Everyone just ignored it.

Two years later, DPU and the Feds still sign off on the project! No doubt the contractor is going to claim they aren't on the hook at this point.

One would hope this would remove the MBTA from the DPU's oversight once and for all.

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Right?

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In 2001 the T wasn't perfect but I don't think many people would believe it would drop to this low just 22 years later.

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80% of workers are incompetent. This holds for the population as a whole. Some smaller organizations manage to pick from that 20%, but for large organizations it's more representative of the general population. If ONE of those incompetent folks lands in a key management position, forget it. The whole ship will sink.

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Even Jack Welch didn't think 80% of his employees needed to be fired. In this case, the rot came right from upper management who knew about the issue but rushed the GLX open for a photo-op anyway. No need to smear 80% of the general workforce.

Somehow properly functioning, properly organized public transportation systems all over the world operate on time, do you think, say, the Germans manage to get the right 20% of the workforce and only Americans have the bad 80%?

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Follow our money and expose where it went, Phil (don't stop now -- you're on a roll)!!!

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Oh snap. Magoo is going to transmorgrify into a roly poly. Magoo.

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Good. Roly polys can't type.

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I am fortunate because the vast majority of my MBTA trips are by bus. For those who made a residential or commercial move in part because of the GLX, this has to be infuriating.

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To quote the GM from the WBZ article:
The tracks are off by an eighth of an inch. To bring the track back to the appropriate width between the running rails, crews will remove the spikes that hold the tie plates in place and shift those plates over. It's not going to be years, it's not going to be months, the proposal that we have is weeks," Eng said. "It is something that we are still reviewing. Because as I mentioned, whether it's this type of repair or others, you know how do we do it while minimizing the impacts to our riders."

I'm sure Eng knew the Globe was working on an article and had the press conference to get ahead of it. Otherwise, this is the type of rail "problem" that would normally fix itself through normal wear and tear. Wide gauge is a much more serious safety concern than being too narrow by an eighth of an inch.

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Okay.. who failed to calibrate the equipment, the simple Go/No-Go gauge that can double check the measurement, and fired/hushed the competent workers who pointed out the fuck-ups? I mean... this is transportation construction.
And WHO confirmed meeting specifications during work inspections and SIGNED OFF?!

Revoke drivers's licenses and mandate they take the GLX once per day in addition to any other use of the MBTA.

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Luckily I can jus take the 80 bus instead of the green line ext.
the extension was great for about a month . It’s been off and on crap since

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Well, it's not as though the GLX corridor is inaccessible to anything else. Heck, if you live near Union Square, you can walk to downtown Boston.

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I guess we are bored, we take simple things and make them complicated so we can go on about them here.

When you see Charlie Baker you see a man who simply did not give a damn about any constituents who ride the T, any and all of his policies were consistent with his contempt for us.

I get the peeps in the 'burbs still think the tall white guys will take care of them, it's our cross to bear while wait for them to continue age and, blessedly, stop voting.

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except his hair and his wallet.

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Don’t forget about Blink 182

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Baker was unusually teflon-coated to be sure, but it's also the case that his real powers were pretty limited as the legislature could override him any time and on any thing they wanted to, and did so regularly.

My sense is that he took a few swings in the direction of the transportation building early on, got his hand slapped by Bob DeLeo, and decided to be The Governor of the Outer Realms (i.e. outside 128). I think Baker can and should be dragged over this, but pinning all or most of the blame on him is too convenient by half for all the folks in the legislature who enable the T's ongoing dysfunction.

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...that the Commision for the Blind (headed by another Baker pal -- or pal of a pal, I presume) has been totally dysfunctional for five years (both a toxic work place and doing an execrable job serving the people it was supposed to help).

Is there any major executive appointment he made that was not a rotten one? (And did he even once, check -- on his own -- as to whether or not state agencies were functioning properly?)

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- Robert Graves, "I, Claudius"

And there's still a lot of mud there, Phil.

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I'm worried that Phil might be too competent for this job.

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So who's the Nero in waiting?

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that I think the T can't get worse.

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In 1886, nearly all 11,500 miles of railway track in the Southern US were converted from a gauge of 5 feet to 4’9” in only 36 hours, between May 31 and June 1.

See: The Days They Changed the Gauge

Why will it take the T months of closures and delays to change the rail width on a measly 4.3-mile stretch of track?

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this kind of gross negligence isn't punishable by criminal law. I bet some millionaire MBTA execs going to jail would wake a few people up. A gross misappropriation of the public's money and there will be zero consequences.

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