The end of the Orange Line shutdown is almost here, and on Friday, the MBTA said the work was 96% complete.
In a video update posted Friday, the MBTA said it had 96% of the planned work complete and was also able to take advantage of the service stoppage to do some "opportunity" projects.
The shutdown is scheduled to end early next Monday. Over the weekend there will be final preparations and testing before the line reopens to riders.
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"There's going to be a lot of people doing work over the weekend to get the system back up," MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said Tuesday.
The Orange Line's historic shutdown by the MBTA began Aug. 19, and in its place, shuttles have been traversing through Boston and other suburbs typically serviced by the transit line. Crews have been working around the clock to complete five years' worth of track and signal replacement, along with maintenance and other projects during the 30-day period.
When service resumes, the majority of Orange Line trains on the rails will consist of new cars — double what the MBTA had running before the shutdown.
There will be other improvements as well, including upgraded lighting at stations and quicker trips thanks to upgraded rails and signaling systems.
"The one challenge is that even though there'll be new trains, even though the tracks will be updated and we will see a lot of benefit on that front, staffing levels are still low and it will take time for staff to be trained up," said Boston Mayor Michelle Wu.
The shutdown has certainly caused some headaches for commuters and residents. Some people have even said their commutes into work have doubled in the train service's absence.
But some regular riders say they'll miss the comfort of the large shuttle buses.
"It's not as fast as the train, but I like it," one woman said. "The driver is so pleasant, she gave us beautiful music and talks to us on the way. I enjoyed it."
Many initially worried about the impact of the historic shutdown and the use of shuttles. Those fears largely didn't seem to materialize.
"Since they shut the Orange Line, we don't have no problem going to our destination," another rider said.
Poftak said that Thursday, with Boston Public Schools students returning, was the busiest day the MBTA has seen since the shutdown began.
The work is part of the MBTA’s response to a safety Federal Transit Administration review following several problems and accidents that have led to injuries, and in one case, the death of a rider. The FTA released a scathing 90-page report two weeks ago that said the MBTA has for years prioritized capital projects over safety and maintenance.