Under pressure from officials in Somerville, construction on the city’s Squires Bridge, which would have closed the Green Line Extension’s E Branch to Union Square, is being postponed until September, state officials announced Wednesday afternoon.
The decision came less than a week after the MBTA announced that service would be suspended for 42 days, starting July 18, on the branch, which opened just over a year ago.
Service to Union Square will continue uninterrupted through the Sumner Tunnel closure, according to Karissa Hand, a spokesperson for Governor Maura Healey.
She added that delaying the closure will give the administration “appropriate time to explore mitigation options and communicate with the public.”
“MassDOT crews inspected the bridge over the weekend and determined it is safe to delay repairs until September,” Hand wrote in an e-mailed statement. “The administration is grateful for the feedback we received from local officials and community members and will maintain close communication as we work to reschedule the Squire Bridge construction.”
When the closure was first announced, the T encouraged would-be Green Line riders to utilize bus routes 86 and 91, transferring from the Washington Street at New Washington Street bus stop to the East Somerville station on the E branch, from which regular Green Line service will still operate. Riders could also take the Route 87 bus from Lechmere to Somerville Avenue at Stone Avenue stop, near Union Square.
MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo wrote in an e-mail Wednesday that the “MBTA is evaluating mitigation options, and the Authority will provide additional information as plans are finalized.”
But Somerville officials objected to the plan, citing the disruption the closure would bring to local T riders.
On Monday, state Representatives Mike Connolly, Erika Uyterhoeven, and Christine Barber, who serve constituents in Somerville, sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Gina Fiandaca urging MassDOT and the MBTA to reconsider their plans to suspend service on the branch.
Noting that Somerville is the most densely populated city in Massachusetts, and many of its citizens have come to rely on Green Line service from Union Square, the representatives wrote that “this is cause for alarm.”
“In sum, this situation raises serious transportation justice and equity concerns for our community,” they wrote.
“While we appreciate the potential for existing bus service to help meet the demand for Union Square’s Green line riders, we believe service replacement is key,” the letter continued. “It should be noted the 86, 87, and 91 buses do not all stop at the same places in Union Square. This means the current alternatives could be difficult to navigate in real time.”
In a Tweet made shortly after the announcement, Connolly thanked the Healey administration for its quick response.
“I am hopeful this extra time will give MassDOT and the MBTA an opportunity to improve the plans for the Squires Bridge repairs,” Connolly wrote.
A spokesperson for MassDOT referred questions about the new project timeline to a notice of service changes by the MBTA, which was updated Wednesday to reflect the reversal.