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MBTA Red and Mattapan Lines to close for repairs in Oct.

Bob Seay
MBTA Red and Mattapan Lines to close for repairs in Oct.

MBTA officials are shutting down sections of the Red Line for 16 days in October.

The Red Line has the most extreme slowdowns in the MBTA’s system, according to data tracked by independent nonprofit TransitMatters. Officials said shutting down the line early on weeknights and fully on weekends hasn’t allowed them to make needed repairs fast enough. As soon as some slow zones are lifted, others appear, making overall progress difficult, if not impossible.

So MBTA officials are deploying what has become a common strategy: shutting down whole sections of the transit system.

MBTA General Manager Phillip Eng said in order to expedite repairs, there will be full-access closures of the Red Line Ashmont branch between JFK/UMass and Ashmont stations and the Mattapan line between Ashmont and Mattapan stations from Saturday, Oct. 14, through Sunday, Oct. 29.

“Safety of the MBTA system is paramount, and this 16-day closure allows us to address many of the Red Line’s worst speed restrictions much faster than we’ve been able to accomplish during night and weekend work,” Eng said.

He noted that the work will enable the T to lift 28 speed restrictions now in effect on that section of the Red Line.

During the closure, the MBTA will provide free, accessible shuttle bus service for the 40,000 daily riders on the Ashmont branch and the 3,700 who ride the Mattapan line.

Unlike the 2022 Orange Line shutdown that took effect just two weeks after being announced, T officials are announcing the Red Line closure almost two months ahead of time — something appreciated by Boston Mayor Michelle Wu.

“I think we learned a lot with the Orange Line and even the fact that [the Red Line shutdown] is being announced and planned now is, in and of itself, an improvement. I believe we had in the city of Boston 15 days to plan for the entire Orange Line being shut down last time around,” Wu said.

The mayor said the advance notice gives the city more time to plan alternative transportation alternatives for riders.

Eng told the MBTA’s board of directors that he is committed to making sure the public knows what’s happening in advance and that people are aware of the different options available. The T will hold four open houses in September to provide the public an opportunity to engage with the project team, learn about details of the construction work, and express their thoughts, comments and concerns.

Bob Seay is the transportation reporter for GBH News.

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