Timing the MBTA's Red Line Shut Down

On Monday I wrote about the MBTA’s decision to shut down the Red Line north of Harvard Square for maintenance work on weekends from November through March. I’ve heard from a few people since then asking about the timing. Why not do it over the summer, when all the students are gone and fewer riders (and therefore businesses) would have been affected? And won’t the winter conditions wreak havoc on the shuttle buses replacing the trains?

So I asked the MBTA about it. Their response: basically it was a matter of the money coming through and not wanting to delay the critical safety project any longer. Also, there is a portion of the project funded through President Obama’s stimulus package (also known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or ARRA) which had a deadline the MBTA needed to hit.

MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo wrote in an email:

There is no immediate threat to safety, but if this work doesn’t take place soon, we’ll have to implement speed restrictions and other measures in order to maintain train service. And since the ARRA-funded phase of the project is on a deadline, there is no point in delaying this project (ALL of the funding is in place and extra workers have been hired).

So there you go. There’s even a nice little political take-away. If you’re a Republican, you can blame Obama and his stupid stimulus for messing up your ride. If you’re a Democrat, hooray, the stimulus at work to make us safer! One thing everyone can agree on: it might be easier to hang out in Porter and Davis squares on weekdays for a while.