MBTA Green Line to close for month north of Government Center as extension branch hits another delay

Orange you glad you’re on a different subway line than the one that’s going to be completely closed? Well, aboard the MBTA, it’s apparently not easy being green, either.

The Green Line will close north of Government Center downtown for just about the same month-long stretch as the Orange Line shutdown, the T announced as it also kicked the Green Line Extension to Medford opening date back a few months to November.

The T’s “Phase 1” of the Green Line Extension, or GLX, to Union Square in Somerville will close from Aug. 22 through Sept. 18 — just about in parallel with the Orange Line shutdown that starts three days earlier and is scheduled to end at the same time.

“Obviously we don’t we don’t like to be in the position of pulling service back like this, but in this case, it advances a number of our of our capital, reliability and safety projects,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak told reporters during a quickly scheduled press call after the T broke the news with a sudden press release.

He said work is needed on the recently opened new GLX branch to Union Square plus the new viaduct that carries the Green Line past the Museum of Science. The work will remove existing speed restrictions in the area, he said on the video call with reporters, his head floating in front of a background image of the soon-to-be-closed viaduct.

The T also said that the “Phase 2” GLX branch through Somerville to Tufts in Medford “is anticipated to open in late November 2022.” The T had been saying “late summer” for the Medford branch, so this is another delay for a project that’s had several.

“I’m in the position of asking folks to be patient and to allow us to make some of these bold and decisive decisions rather than stringing out some of these construction projects literally for years,” Poftak said. The T hopes to do five years’ worth of work on the Orange Line during its closure.

The Herald reported Thursday that the T wasn’t saying when the spike to Medford would open even as the suddenly announced Orange Line shutdown in order to do work there loomed.

The T blamed the Government Center garage construction issues and the new federal directives for MBTA safety following several prominent incidents for the delay in opening up that branch, and said it was impossible to get it done before the Orange Line closure.

Poftak told reporters that the Orange and Green lines would both have to be closed at Haymarket downtown anyway for some time to accommodate the very fraught large construction project going on at the garage at that site.

This comes during a tricky time for the T, just a few weeks after an Orange Line train burst into flames on a bridge over the Mystic River, sending people leaping from windows and a rogue Red Line train car wandered away by itself near the Braintree T station. It’s also just a day after a T bus began belching fire on the Arborway in Boston, injuring two employees.

Earlier in the year, a Red Line trapped a man and dragged him to his death in South Boston, and an escalator gone mad injured several in Cambridge. Last July, two Green Line trains crashed into each other, injuring dozens.

It’s been a rough decade for the T, especially going back to the apocalyptic winter of 2015, when brutal storms caused the system to fail and shut down. Summer 2019 brought another particularly rocky patch, when multiple trains derailed, including one that wiped out a large chunk of the Red Line’s signaling system for months.

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