Orange Line service back up and running after snarling morning commute

Commuters headed for buses at Sullivan Square Station early Monday morning as Orange Line service was suspended between Sullivan and Tufts Medical Center.
Commuters headed for buses at Sullivan Square Station early Monday morning as Orange Line service was suspended between Sullivan and Tufts Medical Center.Nic Antaya for The Boston Globe

The Orange Line between Sullivan Square in Charlestown and the Tufts Medical Center Station in Chinatown reopened Monday afternoon after a shutdown caused when an overnight construction accident threw weekend upgrade work off schedule, the MBTA said.

MBTA officials said in a tweet at 2:23 p.m. that regular service was back.

“We had contact between two vehicles operated by our contractor late last evening that resulted in a delay in the amount of work we were able to get done,” MBTA general manager Steve Poftak told reporters outside a meeting Monday. One contractor was taken to a hospital with chest pains.


“We were also facing some issues with unforeseen site conditions, but this incident really cascaded into the problems we had this morning,” Poftak said.

An independent safety review panel is investigating the incident, the MBTA said.

T spokesman Joe Pesaturo wrote in an e-mail, “The MBTA apologizes for this unexpected disruption in service.”

Poftak hinted that T officials might adjust how much work they plan to accomplish in weekend closures.

“If that’s something we need to adjust, we will adjust it,” Poftak said. “We’re going to learn as we go. Right now, there are no plans to curtail the number of weekends, but we may be changing our expectations around the amount of work that can realistically get done.”

Passengers who experienced disruptions were not happy.

“This is seriously annoying,” said a woman who got off the Orange Line at Back Bay Station and planned to take the Green Line from Copley Station as an alternative to get to her destination.

At Tufts Medical Center, James Fuhrer sighed as he maneuvered his wheelchair into an elevator.

“It’s become very difficult to get anywhere. You never know where the train is going to be and where it’s going to be working,” Fuhrer said.


As Hazel Ible jostled her way through the crowd of sullen riders exiting Tufts Medical Center, she said she was tired of all the detours.

“I’m late for work. I’m beyond frustrated because it’s been happening for several weeks now, but from what I’ve seen, they’re trying. I will say that much,” Ible said.

In August, two months after a Red Line derailment brought heightened scrutiny to the quality of the MBTA’s infrastructure, the MBTA unveiled a $27.5 million plan to expand weekend shutdowns on down parts of the Red, Orange, and Green lines so that crews could gain access to the system and make significant improvements.

Some shutdowns, such as almost three straight months of no weekend service on the Green Line’s D Branch, had already been planned, but the new proposal called for six straight weekends of closures on the heart of the Orange Line (through Nov. 10) and four weekends off for the Red Line through Boston.

On Saturday, Governor Charlie Baker tweeted about the Orange Line project and posted photos of himself visiting a station as work was underway.

“Spent time today spotlighting weekend work on the @MBTA that will upgrade tracks on the Orange Line,” Baker tweeted. “This work, made possible through necessary diversions, is part of our 5-year, $8 billion investment plan aimed at improving reliability and boosting capacity across the system.”

“I apologize,” said Poftak, the MBTA’s general manager. “We will figure out what happened and we will make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”


Material from State House News Service was used in this report. Peter Bailey-Wells can be reached at peter.bailey-wells@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @pbaileywells.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.