MassDOT announced today it will spend $32 million to convert the abandoned Track 61 along the Haul Road up by the convention center into a test bed on which to test the new Red Line cars that are expected to start showing up in 2019.
The move puts the kibosh, at least through 2023, when the last of the Red Line cars are scheduled for delivery, on alternate plans for the tracks, not that they've ever amounted to much, such as running little shuttle trains between the Convention Center and Back Bay and, more recently, using them to run some Fairmount Line trains to the waterfront.
The state says the track is perfect for putting the new Red Line cars through its paces because it has at least 1,800 feet of straight track, it's near the Red Line's South Boston maintenance facility and cars can be moved from there to the track without causing any impact on actual Red Line service.
Work to turn the track into a mini-extension of the Red Line could begin this fall, officials say.
Track 61, part of which dates to 1855, is the last remnant of the days when the waterfront was full of train tracks, when Fan Pier got its name because of the way its train tracks fanned out towards the dock.