MassDOT, MBTA approve 5 year $18B capital plan

Written by Kyra Senese, managing editor
MassDOT
Wamsutta Bridge | File photo courtesy of MassDOT

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Board of Directors and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Fiscal Management and Control Board voted June 18 to approve the five-year $18.3 billion MassDOT and MBTA Capital Investment Plan (CIP) for Fiscal Years 2020-2024.

The approved CIP will bring an increase of about $1 billion over the last five-year CIP. Officials said the CIP includes all MassDOT rail and transit projects, including the MBTA and Regional Transit Authorities as well as the Registry of Motor Vehicles, in addition to all road and bridge projects and work related to public use airports.

The CIP includes investments ranging in scale and in purpose—from small-scale maintenance projects to large-scale multimodal modernization projects. The CIP also includes long-term investments and funding obligations to maintain, modernize and expand the transportation system. The CIP is a rolling five-year plan that is updated annually, representatives explained.

“We are continuing to invest historic levels of funding into the MBTA and strengthen our roadway and bridge networks in order to provide a more reliable transportation system across Massachusetts,” said Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker. “This latest update to the MassDOT and MBTA Capital Investment Plan includes projects that will serve residents throughout the Commonwealth including delivering South Coast Rail and supporting the ongoing transformation of the Red and Orange Lines.”

Approximately 45% of the $18.3 billion in total investments identified for the next five years is expected to be focused on the reliability and resiliency of the core transportation system.

Another 28% of the funding is devoted to modernizing the system in order to better accommodate anticipated growth and respond to increased accessibility and safety requirements that may not have existed when these assets were originally built.

Highlights of the CIP include:

  • $1.58 billion for Red Line/Orange Line improvements: The program includes all investments related to replacing and expanding the Red Line and Orange Line fleets and upgrading the infrastructure needed to support the new vehicles. When fully implemented, the investments are expected to allow three minute headways on the Red Line and four and a half minute headways on the Orange Line. The total cost of the improvements is $2.8 billion.

Investments in this CIP include:

  • $753.7 million for 252 new Red and 152 new Orange Line vehicles, resulting in a complete replacement of both fleets
  • $591.5 million for maintenance facilities and infrastructure to accommodate the new vehicles
  • $253 million to upgrade all signals to a modern digital system, which will allow for increased reliability and more frequent service
  • $875 million for additional capital investments in the Red Line:

This work includes funding for the following major projects:

  • $114.9 million for rehabilitating Longfellow Approach, including $109.5 million of new funding in this year’s CIP. This project will rehabilitate the viaduct carrying the Red Line from the Beacon Hill portal to Charles/MGH station, the platforms at Charles/MGH station, and the first span of the Longfellow Bridge
  • $118 million in new funding for the Mattapan High Speed Line Transformation, for initial investments for bridges, stations, track, and other infrastructure to modernize the Mattapan Line
  • $640.6 million for other improvements to the Red Line, including bridges, track, signals, stations, accessibility improvements, and wayfinding
  • $1.36 billion for the Green Line Extension Project: This project consists of constructing a 4.7-mile light-rail line, which will extend the current Green Line service from a relocated Lechmere Station in East Cambridge, Massachusetts, to a terminus at College Avenue in Medford, Massachusetts and a spur to Union Square in Somerville, Massachusetts.

The total cost of this project is $2.3 billion and is funded with federal and state support of $1.99 billion along with pledged contributions for the project totaling approximately $296 million from the cities of Cambridge and Somerville ($75 million), the Boston MPO ($157 million) and MassDOT ($64.3 million through Special Obligation Bonds).

Investments in this CIP include:

  • $1.1 billion for tracks, railroad bridges, signals, stations and other infrastructure work
  • $86.7 million for 24 accessible vehicles to address new demand from the Green Line Extension
  • $1 billion for the South Coast Rail Project. This project will provide rail service to accommodate the existing and future demand for public transportation between Fall River/New Bedford and Boston, enhance regional mobility and support smart growth planning and development strategies in Southeastern Massachusetts.

The 2020–2024 CIP includes full funding for Phase 1 construction and service via the Middleborough route. The scope of work includes:

  • 37.1 miles of track and Right of Way upgrades
  • 6 new Commuter Rail stations
  • 2 new overnight layover facilities
  • Reconstruction of 28 grade crossings, 14 bridges and 63 culverts
  • $913 million for the Green Line Transformation: This a portfolio of more than 90 projects aims to revitalize the Green Line. It is intended to unify all existing projects and new initiatives to form a cohesive investment strategy and unified Green Line capital program. Officials said the MBTA is making significant investments to modernize the system and procure the next generation of Green Line trolleys.

Investments in this CIP include:

  • $296 million in track and signal improvements, including significant efforts on the D branch and within the Central Tunnel that will reduce delays and eliminate speed restrictions
  • $214 million to begin procuring the Type 10 Green Line light-rail vehicles, which will be fully accessible and larger than the existing fleet to address rider demand.  This CIP includes the initial down payment for a complete fleet replacement estimated at over $1 billion
  • $83 million for the Green Line Train Protection System
  • $55 million for rehabilitation of the Lechmere Viaduct in order to accommodate the heavier Type 10 vehicles
  • $538.6 million for the Commuter Rail Safety and Resiliency Program: This includes investments to improve the safety and resiliency of the Commuter Rail system, including the implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) and Automatic Train Control (ATC). The total cost of this program including investments in past years is $930.8 million.

The investments in this CIP include:

  • $171.9 million to complete implementation of Positive Train Control across all Commuter Rail lines
  • $313.8 million to upgrade signal systems to Automatic Train Control on the North Side Commuter Rail Lines

Public feedback went into preparation of the final CIP, officials said. MassDOT held 13 public meetings in addition to briefings for stakeholders and reportedly received more than 930 comments providing input on proposed plans.

In the coming weeks, the Gov. Baker’s administration said it plans to file a transportation bond bill, which will include authorization to support several items in the FY2020-2024 CIP, as well as future investments in the overall transportation system.

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