MBTA Creates ‘Dam’ to Keep Green Line Tunnel From Flooding

They wanted to avoid a repeat of the events that transpired in 1996, when the waters from the Muddy River rushed into the tunnel near Fenway Station.

Photo via MBTA

Photo via MBTA

MBTA workers created makeshift barricades at the front of the tunnel portal just east of Fenway Station using sandbags Tuesday night, out of fear that the nearby Muddy River would overflow into the station and cause flooding similar to what occurred nearly two decades ago during a torrential downpour.

As of 5:40 p.m., the river was at 16-feet, according to MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo, so 15 workers were deployed to the tunnel’s entrance and told to place the sand bags in a wall formation across the tracks to stave off the excess water. The Muddy River is typically seven-to-eight-feet deep, he said.

“We are taking these precautionary measures so that we may avoid a repeat of the events of October 1996,” Pesturo said.

It was back then that persistent downpours and flooding, as shown in the video below, caused waters from the Muddy River to “[rush] into the Green Line tunnel,” Pesaturo said. The flooding caused millions of dollars worth of damage to T property after it submerged Kenmore Station, destroying train signals, utilities, and the tracks.

Around 10-inches of rain fell on Boston that day, and the precipitation was “more than what Noah saw,” according to a statement made by a Federal Emergency Management Agency official at that time, who was quoted in a story posted to Boston University’s website. 

“Tens of millions of dollars was spent replacing all of the equipment damaged in 1996,” Pesaturo told Boston. “We are not taking any chances tonight.”

He said if severe flooding did occur, “Kenmore Station and everything inside of it, including power, communications, and signal systems” would be at risk.

Buses replaced service between Kenmore and Fenway along that portion of the Green Line as T employees fought to keep the water from damaging the transit agency’s equipment on Tuesday night.

Here’s the video of the flooding that took place in 1996, nearly two decades ago, that the T hopes to avoid: