MBTA to Smooth Out Rocky Green Line Intersections

The agency will spend roughly $30 million over three years to improve 60 road-grade crossings.

The Green Line rolls into a station

Photo by Olga Khvan

If you’re jonesing for an Indiana Jones-level adventure, the Green Line offers enough options for at least a trilogy of stories. From balancing on a packed car while squished between three overstuffed backpacks to enduring the seemingly endless stop-and-go of the B Line, the fictional fodder is truly, uh, inspiring. But now, the MBTA is actually taking steps to smooth things out on your commute.

The road-level intersections where track meets street are a nightmare throughout the city. The crinkled concrete looks like Iron Man played it like an accordion, and the missing chunks of pavement make the areas extremely precarious to navigate. Right now, walking across the tracks is a rolled ankle waiting to happen, but over the next three years, the MBTA will invest $30 million to upgrade those crossings.

At Monday’s MBTA board meeting, agency General Manager Luis Ramírez outlined a multi-phase effort to smooth out 60 road crossings on crowded streets like Comm. Ave., Beacon Street, and Huntington Avenue. The upgrades will touch parts of the Green Line’s B, C, and E branches.

Part of the charm (or headache, for the cynics out there) of the T is that it’s above ground, allowing commuters a ride with a view of more than the inside of a tunnel. But obviously, the trolleys aren’t the only cars on the road, and though sharing may be the mantra of kindergarten classrooms across the city, the volume of vehicles leads to significant infrastructure damage.

“While our service lines are generally exposed to significant wear and tear year-round, grade crossings tend to take even more abuse from motor vehicles, particularly trucks and plows during winter weather,” Ramirez said at the meeting. “It makes it all the more important to launch a separate focus effort to upgrade the conditions of our grade crossings that share the same space with our motor vehicles.”

The project is set to launch in April 2018, and Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said at Monday’s meeting that the T is coordinating construction and shutdowns with the highway division and expects to have more formal findings ready in January. Presumably, updating the crossings could lead to temporary closures along the train lines as the work is completed. Until then, don’t forget your Harrison Ford-style fedora at home. Adventure is afoot.