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Repair Work Will Shut Down Weekend Red Line

Weekend service on the Red Line between Harvard and Alewife will be shut down from Nov. 5 to March 4. It's just the beginning of ongoing repair work that will last until 2016.

If you enjoy hopping on the Red Line on Saturdays or Sundays for a straight-shot train ride into Boston, this is your last weekend to do so for several months.

Beginning Nov. 5, and lasting until March 4, Red Line trains will be out of commission on weekends between Harvard and Alewife stations as the MBTA conducts work on the tunnel and tracks. The Red Line will operate on a normal schedule Mondays through Fridays throughout that period.

In place of trains, the MBTA will operate buses between Harvard and Alewife stations during weekends.

The four months of weekend shutdowns will affect thousands of people. On a typical Saturday, there are about 21,285 fare gate entries at Davis, Porter and Alewife stations, according to Joe Pesaturo, a spokesperson for the MBTA. On Sundays, there are about 14,200 fare gate entries at those stations.

Continued repair work, with likely weekend shutdowns, until 2016

The upcoming weekend diversions, as the MBTA calls them, will allow the transportation authority to conduct work on parts of the tunnel and tracks between Harvard and Alewife that are in "critical" condition.

With $4.3 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the MBTA will repair, remove and replace some of the large concrete slabs that tracks sit on, according to a PowerPoint presentation about the project. The MBTA will also fix water leaks in the tunnel, and it will replace about 6000 feet of rail and about 2300 feet of the electrified third rail—all work that is deemed critical.

Once this critical work is accomplished, the MBTA will spend $35 million in a capital improvement project along this part of the Red Line.

Taking place between 2012 and 2016, the capital improvement project will continue work to bring the tunnel into a state of good repair. This work will include replacing the entire section of third rail between Harvard and Alewife and replacing all curved rail sections.

Passengers can expect further weekend shutdowns throughout that four-year period, and the MBTA will also conduct night work.

Need for work

The work that's taking place between Nov. 5 and March 4 will focus on parts of the track and tunnel that have casued disruptions to service in recent years.

Many know the feeling of being trapped on the Red Line train between Porter and Davis stations. In July, passengers were before being evacuated through the tunnel.

The tunnel between Harvard and Alewife opened in 1985, and it's been a challenge to maintain, according to the presentation: In addition to the ever-present challenge of funding, repair work to this tunnel section is difficult because the nearest access point to Harvard Station is 2.2 miles away at the Longfellow Bridge, and all material must be brought in by rail.

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