The MBTA Fenway Portal Project has Started; Residents Concerned about Noise

The MBTA Fenway Portal Project is in full swing— workers are working to install flood control measures at the entrance to the Green Line subway tunnel at Fenway station.

According to the MBTA’s website, flooding at the portal near Fenway station “has been a significant issue for the MBTA since Green Line D-branch service began in 1959.” In 1996, the Muddy River overflowed and filled the Green Line subway tunnel all the way up to Arlington Station, causing nearly $70 million in damage. Service was suspended on the Green Line for nearly seven days, and it was estimated that 40 million gallons of water were pumped out of the tunnel. This project is an effort to prevent something like this from happening again.

“This important project will lead to significant improvements at the entrance to the Green Line tunnel to protect the portal during extreme flooding events,” said Joe Pesaturo, Director of Communications for the MBTA. The project consists of the constriction of flood gates and flood doors at the the portal that can be shut if there is a major storm, he said. “These will be similar to the doors installed years ago on the Red Line beneath the Fort Port Channel near South Station,” Pesaturo said, and the project will also include a “major overhaul” of the existing water pumps and the installation of a new drainage system. Pesaturo said that the construction cost is $8.1 million.

The project website says that the construction will take place over a 16-month period, most of it occurring on weekends to limit disruptions in service. “A limited amount of work will also be performed during weeknights after Green Line service ends,” the site reads.

Shuttle buses have replaced Green Line D Branch service between Reservoir and Kenmore stations on weekends beginning October 27. This will continue for eight consecutive weekends (ending on December 16) to allow work for the Fenway Portal Project, as well as the D branch’s Track and Signal Replacement Project and capital construction work between Beaconsfield and Kenmore, according to a press release from the MBTA. There is no shuttle bus service to or from Beaconsfield Station; the MBTA is urging its customers to use Reservoir Station or Dean Road on the C branch.

“While we acknowledge this may cause an inconvenience to some of our customers, this work will allow our crews to advance the necessary work as part of the Green Line Transformation Project,” MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramírez said in the release. “Upgrading our core infrastructure is key to delivering the kind of service improvements that our customers deserve.”

Though the project will provide improvements to the Green Line in the long run, the construction noise, particularly at night, is a serious concern for Dolores Boodganian and other members of the Audubon Circle Neighborhood Association (ACNA) who have discussed the Fenway Portal Project at their past few meetings. The MBTA spoke at the October ACNA meeting, which Boogdanian said was appreciated by the Board and “somewhat helpful,” but she said that they “offered little” that addressed the issue of noise at night, which she believes is the most significant issue related to the project.

“MBTA project personnel have assured us that all will be done to minimize this; however, the noise and other disruptions that occur when this work is being done late at night and in the early morning hours are immediate and—short of relocating—impossible for the residents living near the station to avoid or ignore,” she said.

She also said that there were several questions that arose at the meeting that the MBTA said they would answer at a later date, but she said she thinks they have yet to be addressed.

ACNA also had concerns about a generator that has been running 24/7 at the site since the project began. Boogdanian said it has been “emitting noise and noxious fumes,” and she said that the MBTA has suggested that they have worked with Eversource on bringing in a new electric utility line for the project, even though it was not originally included in the project plans when the project began.

“This will require new excavation and road work on Miner Street, and the earliest it will be done is December,” Boogdanian said.

According to the Fenway Portal Project MBTA website, the work for the Day Shift from November 13-16 includes this potential Eversource road work on Miner Street, a concrete demo/slab removal at Pump Station, and the widening of the opening at Pump Station Wall. The Night Shift work from November 12-15 consists of fiber and communication work at Aspinwall Substation.

The MBTA requests that noise issues be directed to the 24/7 noise hotline at 508-676-3550.

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