By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

The latest Green Line Extension problems are an outrage

Green Line trolley at the new Tufts/Medford station. Photo (cc) 2022 by Dan Kennedy.

It’s hard to describe how outrageous it is that the brand-new, $2.3 billion Green Line Extension was built with miles of tracks that are too close together. Bruce Mohl writes at CommonWealth:

At a confusing press conference on Thursday that raised almost as many questions as answers, MBTA General Manager Phillip Eng said it appears the prefabricated plated rail ties for the Green Line extension were made to incorrect specifications and then installed. A plated rail tie consists of a wooden tie with steel plates on either end for holding the rail in place.

Gov. Maura Healey blamed her predecessor, Charlie Baker, which is a pretty safe call — the GLX was built on his watch, so surely someone in his administration was responsible. The Boston Globe reports that Eng also said his underlings didn’t inform him of the problem in a timely manner. Let the firings begin.

One thought that occurs to me is that Baker canceled a more expensive version of the GLX approved by his predecessor, Deval Patrick. It would not surprise me if Baker let an unqualified contractor sweet-talk his administration into doing the job on the cheap.

I don’t usually take the GLX because the Medford/Tufts terminus is too far from my house and is s-l-o-w. Instead, I generally take the commuter rail to North Station and then the Orange Line. But the GLX can be valuable as a backup, and of course a lot of people depend on it. This is literally unbelievable, except that it’s the MBTA.

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  1. Jay Griffin

    Dan there’s not a pol on Beacon Hill who didn’t get a friend, brother in law or supporter a job at the T. That’s how it has worked for generations. Charlie Baker’s broom just wasn’t big enough. Someone should ask Governor Healy if she has added friends to the T payroll.

  2. Bob Gardner

    Baker failed to do what he was elected to do. The whole premise of his election was that he was a competent manager who would do what Deval Patrick failed to do, ie make the T reliable. Patrick left gehind a T that collapsed in bad winter weather. Eight years later, Baker left a T which collapsed in mild summer weather. We are so starved for leaders like Baker who are reasonable and sane, that nobody asked if he really was the great manager we all thought he was.

  3. Ilex

    It is an outrage. My first reaction to hearing this news was, “Does nobody at the T own a measuring tape?”

    It was truly nobody’s job to verify that the materials provided met the specification requirements? I’ve work in construction inspection, and that is what my personnel did every day — ascertain that the products and methods being used for a project meet all job requirements and industry standards, as the work is being done. If the wrong product is provided, we rejected it, filed an RFI, and/or demanded an official change order before we allowed it to be used. This is just appalling.

    I notice the T still doesn’t seem to have an official explanation for the ongoing Orange Line slow zones, which I assume are permanent.

  4. Ilex

    P.S. Too bad we can’t edit posts. I decided to change tenses in mine, but I was in a hurry and did not do a good job of it! Sorry for any confusion.

  5. Jay Griffin

    Past tense, present tense or future it doesn’t matter. The T is still Mr Bulgers Transit Authority.

  6. Bobby

    Jay griffin said it all in both posts. It’s a culture that’s difficult to change. Takes years. Same thing for BPS.

  7. Dan Kennedy

    Incredibly, I wrote this *before* people were forced to get off a Green Line car Friday and walk.

  8. Garfield Wilson

    How come nobody is talking about the “hero” John Dalton? The MBTA paid this man over $280,000 a year to deliver this program. He has since left the T and has a job with the designer of GLX, STV. The same designer that is currently facing litigation from the constructor of GLX. The same designer that may or may not be responsible for this debacle.
    Has anyone ever asked if John Dalton ever built a project the size of GLX prior to his employment by the T? Maybe he got the project because of the political position his father has in the Federal government.
    I just think this needs to be looked into a bit.

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