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Baker Proposes $83 Million In MBTA Upgrades To Avoid Another Winter Meltdown

Gov. Charlie Baker has proposed a "resiliency plan" for the MBTA that he hopes will help avoid a repeat of the winter's transit meltdown. Here, a Green Line stop on the B branch was closed after a February snowstorm.
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)MoreCloseclosemore
Gov. Charlie Baker has proposed a "resiliency plan" for the MBTA that he hopes will help avoid a repeat of the winter's transit meltdown. Here, a Green Line stop on the B branch was closed after a February snowstorm. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

In the hopes of avoiding a repeat of February's transit meltdown, Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday announced a plan to spend $83 million to make the MBTA more reliable during harsh winter weather.

The money, to be spent over five years, would be used to update infrastructure, purchase new equipment and improve operations during severe weather, according to a statement from the governor's office.

Some of the suggested infrastructure upgrades include replacing third rails and upgrading heaters along vulnerable aboveground sections of the Red and Orange lines, installing fencing to mitigate snow drift accumulation on tracks, repairing maintenance facilities and purchasing additional power generators and specialized snow removal and anti-icing equipment.

The plan also calls for contracting out more snow removal, as well as formalizing a program with the state Department of Corrections to use inmates to clear snow as needed. (See a full list of proposed updates here.)

The $83 million would come primarily from federal funds, as well as T capital and operating funds.

The so-called "resiliency plan" was created based on a peer review of the T's winter operations conducted by the American Public Transportation Association following last winter's service breakdowns. The T was crippled by a string of snowstorms that dumped more than 100 inches of snow on the city of Boston, most of it within a single month.

The governor's office says it'll present the plan to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation board next week for approval.

In announcing the plan, Gov. Baker also called on the Legislature to pass his administration's proposed T reforms, which include the creation of a fiscal control board to oversee the T for three to five years.

Both the House and the Senate approved parts of the plan in their respective budgets proposals, but they have yet to negotiate a final version to send to the governor.

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Abby Elizabeth Conway Twitter Digital Producer/Editor
Abby Elizabeth Conway was formerly a digital producer and editor at WBUR.

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