After a string of construction derailments extended work on the line's western end, the MBTA will kick off an 18-day shutdown of Blue Line train service on the line's easternmost stops on Sunday, officials announced Wednesday.
Shuttle buses will replace trains all day between Wonderland and Orient Heights stations from May 22 through Wednesday, June 8. Riders will be able to board the subway at Orient Heights for service toward Bowdoin.
Crews will aim to repair and reopen a pedestrian bridge at Suffolk Downs during the upcoming diversion, and their work will happen under significant time pressure: on June 10, two days after the Blue Line shutdown is set to end, the Department of Transportation plans to kick off phase one of a major Sumner Tunnel project that will involve shuttering the tunnel for a total of 36 weekends.
The tunnel, which carries traffic from East Boston into downtown Boston, will close from 11 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday into spring 2023. In the project's second phase, MassDOT will close the tunnel for four continuous months from May through September 2023, and then the third phase will feature more weekend closures in the fall and winter.
"If the MBTA does not complete this work on the Suffolk Downs pedestrian bridge now, the pedestrian bridge will likely not be repaired for another two years until the Sumner Tunnel reopens seven days a week in Winter 2023," the T said in a press release.
The transit agency planned to perform the Suffolk Downs work during a Wonderland-to-Orient Heights shutdown from May 12 to May 29, but pushed back the start date after another diversion on the Blue Line's other end ran more than a week longer than expected.
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MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said this week that the first project, which took trains between Maverick and Bowdoin offline, experienced three separate construction tool cart derailments.