Maura Healey: ‘Poor Judgment’ From Baker Administration Kept Green Line Extension Problems Shrouded

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By Sam Drysdale
State House News Service

Senior management at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority displayed “poor judgment” in going ahead with the opening the new Green Line Extension last year despite knowing there were problems with the tracks, and in not disclosing those failures to Governor Maura Healey’s administration, the current governor said Monday.

News came last week that more than half of the track on the T’s new 4.4-mile Green Line Extension into Somerville and Medford is too narrow, and will need to be “regauged” to increase space between the two rails.

Healey’s appointed MBTA general manager, Phil Eng, said he only was informed of the problem “recently,” though senior officials in then-governor Charlie Baker’s administration may have known about the problems as early as 2021.

“What’s important is that it was not disclosed, and it was really not addressed,” Healey said to reporters Monday, October 23 when asked if her administration has any answers as to why the problem was not disclosed. “That is something we’ve been really clear about. Under the prior administration, senior management at the T, for whatever poor judgment, made the decision not to disclose identified failures, and then made the poor decision not to address those failures prior to the opening of the Green Line Extension.”

The Union Square branch, which was opened in spring of 2022, needs to have about 50 percent of its track regauged; and the nascent Medford/Tufts branch, which opened in December last year, needs repairs on about 80 percent of its track.

Healey said Monday that Eng informed her of the problem “as soon as … [he] discovered those deficiencies.”

“We’ve been transparent with the public about not only the disclosures and the failure to disclose, but also the fixes, and I’m confident that general manager Eng — as he has at every turn so far in his tenure — will make sure that those issues are addressed and remedied. That work is under way,” Healey said.

The Boston Globe reported that two people with senior roles on the extension project were no longer employed at the T as of Thursday, October 19.

Asked by a reporter if there is anything else her administration did not know about from the prior administration or if the T was trying to find out if there was anything else not disclosed, Healey took the opportunity to tout some of the progress she says has been made at the T during her time in office. She mentioned the creation of new positions such as chief safety officer and an officer in charge of station conditions, as well as the hiring of about 1,000 employees.

The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation estimated in April that the T needed to hire 2,800 workers by April 2024 in order to maintain system operations, and Eng predicted in August that the T is on track to hire about 1,300 new employees by the end of the year.

“It’s hard to speak to what you don’t know about,” Healey responded to the reporter. “I will say this, that every effort has been made to make sure that with this administration, we have a team in place that understands its responsibility, and takes that responsibility seriously.”


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